Knowing what employers seek in new employees can be the best way to evaluate how marketable is your skill set. Are your skills and credentials in line with employers’ expectations? Do you know what is expected of you to thrive in a highly competitive job market? Previous data from HR managers in leading private firms show that employers value skill sets such as problem-solving, team-working as well as critical thinking. On top of this, employers look for additional and more complicated competencies in young hires. Let’s take a closer look at some –perhaps less obvious - skills that are included in employers’ wish list:
Graduate recruiters value graduate’s ability to manage ambiguity especially when working in complex, fast-changing environments. This skill is especially relevant in the retail sector. For instance, a store manager expects a delivery but the arrival date of the goods is not known. He will then have to stay in touch with the supplier for updates and figure out how many employees should be available to help and how much shelf space will be needed.
You can demonstrate this skill by highlighting a time you had to cope in a crisis that came out of the blue and brought about adverse results. How did you cope with ambiguity? What was your action plan? Did you use any alternative approaches or changed priorities when things got worse? The key here is to tangibly show the recruiter how you can adapt to change, uncertainty and risk.
This is a vital skill particularly for roles that involve team-working, which is the case for the majority of graduate jobs. Emotional intelligence involves second-guessing someone’s thoughts and attitudes without them having to explain it to you. Having this trait, means that you are sensitive, insightful and you are able to build constructive relationships with people.
You can prove that you have developed emotional intelligence if you have assumed roles that involved plenty of human interaction (e.g. complaints handling, customer service, volunteering). Show how you applied this competency in a business situation.
Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Skills
This skill set involves the capacity for working independently and thinking originally as well as having an exceptional business sense. Using your initiative and gut you’re able to spot gaps in the market and fill them accordingly. On top of this, you boast high levels of commercial awareness, innovative thinking, persuasiveness and negotiation skills. You are also good at prioritising tasks and managing time effectively.
You can demonstrate your entrepreneurial streak on your CV or at a job interview by highlighting a few entrepreneurial achievements, creativity or innovative thinking, how you handled a business improvement project and so on. However, examples may come from contexts other than the business world. Enterprising skills can be also obtained through active involvement in societies and clubs. If you had a managerial role in a student society, show how you executed a marketing campaign to promote the society or how you used your creativity to come up with an innovative way to raise money.
Employers seek for candidates who can demonstrate impeccable leadership skills and can also look into the future, figure out what the trends will be and what their business will need in order to thrive in a changing environment. Such candidates proactively seek to make the necessary organisational changes and take the right strategic decisions that will add value to the company. All in all, initiating change involves planning carefully for implementing change, taking into consideration the pace at which the company can absorb change.
Explain the prospective employer a time when you had to propose drastic measures – on your own initiative- in order to change the company culture when a crisis occurred. Explain the strategy you employed to transform the culture as smooth as possible and how you can similarly add value by bringing positive change to the target company.
On the whole, working hard to develop core skills needed by employers is not enough to succeed in today's competitive job market. Taking the extra mile to enhance other competencies that are not straightforward is worth the effort as they will set you apart from competition. You will show the prospective employer that you have an all-round skills set that makes you highly suitable for the job at hand.