The building up of graduate job skills is becoming ever more important to help you stand out from the rest of the graduate talent pool and gain the best jobs. With more people going to university than ever and high unemployment, competition is fierce and, in many industries, graduate recruiters call the shots.
As well as academic skills there are essential key skills that are at the centre of what recruiters want. A well-rounded set of work skills are essential.
Some time ago the University of Sheffield analysed over 10,000 graduate recruitment advertisements in The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and The Times. It found the top ten attributes recruiters valued, in order of importance, were: oral communication, teamwork, enthusiasm, motivation, initiative, leadership, commitment, interpersonal skills, organisation and foreign language competence.
But recent survey results show that these and some of the other important skills, such as time management, communication, decision-making and problem solving, have been lacking in graduates for the past few years. These are the things you should have developed during your time at university. If you didn't, take action now because these skills can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful applicant.
Interacting with different kinds of people can help with communication, so make an effort to meet a range of people and don't just stick to your mates. Chat to children, to business people, to your parents and to foreigners. Make sure you can relate to anyone who comes your way. Joining clubs or doing voluntary work will ensure you improve your communication skills because it will give you a better understanding of others.
When it comes to time management, you may have been able to blag an extension for your dissertation at university but you sure as hell won't get away with it in the corporate world. If you know you've got a deadline at work, plan for it and make sure you meet it.
Decision-making is easy to avoid at university and as a result, many people find this aspect of their first job very stressful. Try to be decisive and assertive, even if it's only when deciding where to go for lunch. Note how peoples' behaviour towards you changes depending on how you present yourself and learn from it.
The same applies to problem solving. Show initiative when a problem arises, don't just stand there waiting for someone else to sort it out. Assess the situation calmly and apply yourself to thinking of a way around it.
Even the little things are important; it's amazing how many people are unable to arrive at work on time, dress appropriately, manage their work load or get on with colleagues amicably. These are all elements of intelligent behaviour at work, so get the right graduate job skills.
For more information on jobs, work skills, job skills and how to enter the workforce the Directgov website is full of information on how to get a job.