The notion of graduate employability is a hot topic. As the employment market tightens in many areas, competition is fierce. Good grades are an excellent start but it’s now taking a lot more to stand out – particularly when you’re potentially up against hundreds of candidates for any given job.
So what are the components that make up the ‘ideal’ package?
- Strong Academic Performance, Knowledge & Skills
Your degree provides the foundation of your career and that ‘piece of paper’ will open many doors. But don’t underestimate the value of everything you learn along the way, truly committing yourself to being informed and perfecting your skills will help separate you from other grads (both within the job application process and in the workplace).
- Transferable Skills
Also known as soft skills or employability skills, these are general professional and personal skills such as Communication, Teamwork, Problem Solving and Planning and Organising. Some people possess natural proficiency in areas like these but it’s also totally possible to develop these skills – and diverse experience is the best way to do it!
- Industry Experience
Sometimes this is the hardest component to obtain but the learning possibilities are infinite. Being confronted with real life challenges, having tangible ramifications and observing experienced professionals are experiences that are invaluable. This doesn’t always have to be in your desired industry, remember that your career is made up of stepping stones. Any industry experience is valuable and will inevitably lead you to further opportunities.
- Developed Networks
‘Networking‘ doesn’t have to be cringeworthy, awkward, daunting (insert personally relevant word here). It really is about finding genuine connections with people. Genuine connections are more powerful than a piece of paper. i.e. It’s much easier to show how wonderful you are in person than on your resume. So get chatting, ask advice, go for coffee, offer to help. The more genuine you are – the more developed your networks will be.
- Career Management Skills
All of your skills, knowledge and experience can go unnoticed and under utilised if you’re unsure of how to harness opportunities. This collection of skills includes self awareness, developing career objectives, understanding labour market information, personal branding and job applications. You really don’t want to miss opportunities due to a weak cover letter…
- Cultural Awareness
We live and work in an increasingly diverse and global environment. Having an understanding that enables you to work effectively in a diverse workplace is the first step, having the knowledge and experience to adapt to different global markets will truly elevate you as a professional.
- Entrepreneurial Thinking
It’s easy to isolate this concept to those who want to start their own business, but it’s relevant to every employee. The ability to identify opportunities, generate new ideas and assess commercial viability will make you a valuable part of a business. Check out Forbes’ article, The 4 Essential Traits of ‘Intrapreneurs’ to find out more.
- Leadership Qualities
The title of ‘leader’ doesn’t necessarily feel right for everyone. But don’t be intimidated, the ability to use your initiative, confidently lead change, present your ideas and manage projects will define you as a leader and make you valuable in any team. Often this takes practice and once again, experience is the best way to build confidence in this area.
Check out our next post to take a closer look at what you can do at uni to build your employability.