Introduction: why you need an edge
Most people start hunting for a job when they leave education, thinking that their newly acquired degree will make them desirable to many employers and will be a foot in the door at the prestigious organisation they’ve already set their sights on.
The great majority of these people will learn a very hard lesson.
Employers do value knowledge but students fresh out of uni with no vocational skills or experience require a lot of training, a lot of handholding, a lot of investment and a lot of time.
“So what? There’s loads of graduate job vacancies! I’ll be fine!”
Picture these two students arriving at a graduate job interview. Both have a first class business degree.
How would you choose between them? Both are well presented, friendly, intelligent people, both capable of doing the job.
But what if I told you that one of them had been volunteering for three years with a leading charity, and has run two proven, successful marketing campaigns during that time? They also have a work reference as well as a reference from their course tutor, whereas the other only has a reference from their course tutor.
How would you now choose between them? Although the vacancy is a graduate job, proven skills and experience make one graduate stand out over the other.
“They seem to lack the basic social communication skills, especially online etiquette skills.
Most of the young girls that I come across seem to think texting a client or their manager is the same as when they text/email their friends — bad punctuation, abbreviation of words, etc.
I would value or welcome basic skills, such as communication and reliability. It seems basic but it’s sure difficult to find prospective employees with those kinds of skills.”
CEO/Founder, Premier Beauty Solutions
This series of articles is about building your work experience while you study or search for a long-term job, so that you have demonstrable skills that employers really value, and a competitive edge over other applicants.
So what skills are companies really looking for? When preparing this series, we asked companies:
“What skill(s) – soft or hard skills – do graduates joining your company lack? What would you value?”
You’ll find quotes throughout the articles from real companies responding to this question. We’ve explained the hard and soft skills that employers value, and given you ideas for how you can acquire – and demonstrate – these, to would-be employers.
We hope you find the series valuable and wish you every success with kick-starting your successful career.
“With such heavy emphasis on technology, there seems to be a lack of basic communications skills, which not only apply to the interview process, but also to ongoing interaction and working with teams in a new workplace. Simple skills, such as making and keeping eye contact, paying attention to a teammate, and using appropriate responses like shaking hands rather than a nod of the head, are really valued because they are often missing.
Employers are looking for people who have more than the requisite technical skills. They want individuals who will be a good fit for the company’s culture and existing employee base. Be smart and understand the importance of the team and team dynamics.”
President, Forti Communications Inc