Schools Training

The ten skills students really need when they graduate

5 FEB 2014

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The number of jobs available for graduates is predicted to rise by 10.2%, according to a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters. Good news for students – but when you come to apply for your first job after university, are you sure you’ll have the relevant skills for the post?

Leaving it until you’re sitting in front of a blank computer screen trying to write your CV for a graduate job may well be too late to assess the qualities you’ve got to offer.

“From day one students should see the start of university as the start of their working life,” says Dan Hawes, co-founder of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. “Think of the skills you need to have when you finish university in three or four years time and then work backwards, so you’re hoarding skills each year.”

Gemma Pirnie, founder of Your New Crew, says: “When I left university I was completely unprepared for what the grad market would throw at me. I thought having a 2:1 from a good university and having a bit of (irrelevant) work experience would see me land a job no problem – not the case.”

Obviously the skills you need will depend on the job you apply for, but there are some things that graduate recruiters are looking for that you can start thinking about now.

Business sense

“Candidates who start their own societies, organise their university ball or start their own T-shirt-making business while at uni tend to have a good grasp of how a business makes money,” says Cary Curtis, managing director of Give-a-grad-a-go.

An understanding of business is one of the main skills that students underestimate, according to a 2013 Guardian survey. Less than 10% of students thought it was a vital skill, compared to nearly 50% of employers.

“You don’t need to be the next Mark Zuckerberg,” says Curtis, “but having a good idea of how a business runs and the challenges involved are really useful skills to take into a company.”

Get global

“More and more employers are wanting graduates to have a ‘global mindset’, which means understanding different cultures and how industries work across borders,” says Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters.

Isherwood recommends that students make the most of time at uni to meet people from around the world, consider study abroad schemes like Erasmus, and says that speaking another language shows that a grad has a “better cultural understanding”.

A language

“If you speak another language then make sure it’s clearly displayed on your CV,” says Curtis. “We really like bilingual candidates as they usually interview really well. But quite often their CV doesn’t do them justice. ‘Business fluent French’ looks much better than just ‘French A-level at grade A’ as it offers a company more.”

Be careful though. “If you haven’t had much practice with your languages make sure you scrub up before sending out a CV that implies you can hold your own.”

 

Read full article and the other skills: The Guardian