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What are the skills that an employer seeks?

boss and employee shaking hands to illustrate employability skills

 

Considering the extremely competitive job market, and lack of skilled resources, it is imperative to display the right skills that an employer seeks. Skills do not refer to your academic/technical qualifications or the degrees that you possess. Of course, these degrees define your capability, but skills are finer details that make you employable. Being employable can be defined as “the capability of getting and keeping satisfactory work”. Your employability skills are those transferable skills that ensure employment. It can also be defined as:

“A set of achievements, understandings, and personal attributes that make individuals more likely to gain employment and to be successful in their chosen occupations”. – Mantz Yorke & Peter Knight (HEFCE/DfES ESECT group)

Along with great technical knowledge and understanding, an employer seeks certain qualities in their employees. They trust that such qualities or skills equip the employee to carry out a job role to their best ability. Your employability depends on how you nurture such skills, implement them in your daily activities, and exude in your attitude, during an interview, or at work.

You will gain knowledge from having a degree but it is not sufficient on its own.

A degree does not automatically bring jobs at your doorstep. Although a degree definitely enables you to apply for a job that specifies “must be a graduate”, you need additional skills, abilities, and qualities to stand out of the crowd who applied for the same job and with the same qualifications that you have.

The business environment today is dynamic. The work environment is in a state of constant change. This indicates that your career may require moving between different job functions, maybe even employers. Furthermore, both the job and the employer may change or develop during your period of employment. Therefore, it is only natural for employers to seek enterprising, dynamic, resourceful, and adaptable graduates who can work under such circumstances.

This, however, does not mean that your degree loses its impact. The standard of your degree and your core subject helps you enter the career of your choice. However, it is only your skill set that can help you become employable. The skills you choose to develop must reflect your personality, interests, and your abilities, as these abilities directly influence your career.

On the basis of a number of surveys that were taken by Target Jobs, Microsoft, Prospects, BBC, AGR and NACE, among others, to understand the skills required by graduates have been listed below:

Self-motivation:

You must be able to take an initiative, identify opportunities, and be proactive in offering solutions to problems. You must be able to suggest ideas.

Verbal communication:

Any organisation would want someone who is not only able to speak well, but also express the ideas clearly and confidently by communicating effectively.

Teamwork:

Apart from being able to work independently, you must also be able to work within a group, as a team.

Commercial awareness:

You must be able to identify the commercial realities that affect an organisation.

Problem-solving:

A very important quality that ensures success is the ability to solve problems. If you, instead of simply raising issues, can also offer solutions to it, you will be considered more employable than your counterpart.

Analysing:

An indispensable skill is the ability to analyse. If you are able to systematically gather data in order to establish facts, you will be considered highly employable.

Drive:

Unless you are able to show determination in accomplishing a work at hand, or trying your best to improve the techniques to successfully complete a job in the best way possible, you will not be considered employable.

Flexibility:

You are considered employable if you show flexibility towards the changing work environment or situations.

Written communication:

Apart from the ability to speak well, you must be able to express or communicate effectively in writing.

Planning and organising:

It is always an added advantage to be able to plan activities and stick to the plan. It is a key part of effective management.

Time management:

To be employable, you must be able to prioritise tasks, manage time and work to deadlines.

 

Although these 11 skills establish employability, there are more skills that are also important based on the job role.

Leadership:

This enables you to direct as well as motivate others

Global skills:

Knowledge of other languages or cultures is a big bonus. It enables an employee to work in countries that do not have English as their official language.

Negotiation:

It is an added advantage if you are able to discuss and convince, as well as negotiate, while reaching an agreement.

Computing skills:

This is a must-have skill in today’s job scenario. Being able to use the word processor, the internet, email, spreadsheets, etc., are considered basic requirements. Understanding graphs, tables, web designing, using databases are an added advantage.

Self-awareness and confidence:

Being confident about yourself can win you a job. Being aware of your weaknesses, strengths, values, abilities and achievements, and coming across as a strong, positive, professional individual earns accolades in any job interview.

Keen learner:

Being able to learn continually and develop new skills and competencies ensures employability.

Stress tolerant:

There are many who quit under high work pressure. Being able to survive high work load, stress, yet maintains performance secures your job and makes you highly employable.

Integrity:

Adhering to procedures, standards, maintaining confidentiality, questioning inappropriate behaviour also adds to your employability.

Decision-making:

You must be able to evaluate logically and factually while presenting solutions to any problem.

Interpersonal skills:

It is extremely important you recognise and respect others views and be open to suggestions and ideas. This skill shows how employable you are.

Creativity:

In a highly dynamic work environment, it is necessary to be creative and applying creativity and solutions as and when necessary.

However, many skills overlap e.g. leadership encompasses planning and organising, verbal communication, decision-making, etc. Verbal communication involves different modes of communication, each easier than the other, such as making a presentation, talking over a phone, or explaining to a colleague without understanding the topic much. However, due to overlapping of skills, you can improve on many skills at once.

 

We will shortly be introducing a Level 2 Award in Employability Skills to help you find a job. Join our mailing list if you would like to know when it is available.

 

References

https://www.exeter.ac.uk/ambassadors/HESTEM/resources/General/STEMNET%20Employability%20skills%20guide.pdf

https://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/top-ten-skills.htm

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/apr/22/top-10-things-employers-looking-for

https://www.indeed.co.uk/Employability-Skills-jobs

https://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/skillsintro.htm