Essecial skills

Just a few years ago a university diploma or degree in hand meant literally a visa for an entry-level job. You wouldn’t struggle to get your first job and some even got their jobs before even graduating. Those days are indeed gone. Nothing is more frustrating than spending years at University, graduate with high expectations just to find yourself sitting at home for months if not years looking for your first job and what is even more frustrating is that every employer seems to be looking for experience that you don’t have. How do you get experience if you need experience to land a job in the first place? Why are things so tough these days? What skills today’s graduates are lacking to get a job easily? What are employers really looking for in graduates?

 Skills, Skills and Skills

Today’s economic atmosphere is completely different from the past, gone are those days when an employee would work for one company for 20 years or more, today employers know that 5 years with one employee is already considered loyalty, this is why employers don’t have more time to be patient with newly qualified employees. Before they would’t mind to hire an unskilled graduate and train him/her for 6 months, 12 months or even 2 years before they could become productive because they knew they could still benefit 20 or even more years of productivity for that employee. Today things have changed, employers are no longer patient they know very well that they could train you for 2 years and see you leaving the company on the fourth year or even sooner…

The other thing with so many highly qualified candidates on the market and only a few well paying jobs available, finding a job that fits your qualification level is challenging because there are also many job seekers with even better qualifications and excellent academic records than you looking for the same job. You have to find a way to stand out among the crowd and the only way you can is to have some skills on top of your qualification. These three skills are some of the most highly sought after qualities young professionals can possess. Learn to cultivate and market these three skills in order to land the job of your dreams: Technology Skills, Communication Skills and Positive Attitude.

Technology Skills

Today everything is technology driven, whether you are in medical, law, engineering, graphic design, accounting or even education fields, you won’t be able to fake your way through if you don’t have at least average computer skills. Obviously you don’t have to be a computer guru, but if you can be able to demonstrate that you have goods skills with Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint Outlook and Access can be a huge boost on your application. So if you are not confident with these basics skills, now it is the right time to start thinking seriously about how you gonna acquire them as soon as possible.

If you are in engineering or Information and Technology field, There are some few skills that can make you stand out among the crowd, in engineering if you can demonstrate that you can use some CAD software such as AutoCAD or a similar software for engineering drawing, circuit design and simulation CAD software, understand basic networking and programming can be a huge boost for your application. If you are an IT graduate, on top of your programming and networking subjects you did at varsity, try to learn even more, try to have a basic knowledge in as many as possible programming languages and scripts as much as you can, don’t limit yourself to what you have learned at university. Anything that is out there on the market, you have to know what is all about. Terms like Microsoft VB, Microsoft C#, VBA, VBScript, C++, SQL, MySQL, Java, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, N+, A+, and CISCO just to mention a few, mustn’t sound like an alien sound to you. You don’t have to master all of these but a fair knowledge in as many as possible can land you a dream job sooner than some of your varsity colleagues who had better academic record than you. You could have completed your degree or diploma with many distinctions but if you don’t have some few skills that an employer is looking for, to be honest your 80% and 90% won’t mean a lot especially if the employer is a small company.

The question that you are probably asking yourself is WHERE CAN I LEARN THESE SKILLS? The answer is anywhere, try to Google and you will land into some great websites where you could learn a lot for free, YouTube is my favorite place I can advice anyone, there are also some specialized companies which offers these skills online or through some videos that you can buy for self study. There is no really reasons why you shouldn’t learn new skills!

Driving licence

By just having a driving Licence or your own car, can boost your chances of getting a job quicker than someone who doesn’t have it. Whether you are in engineering, catering, finance or any sector, believe me nowadays employers expect you to have your own transport even if they know you are just straight from university. If you don’t have a car, try at least to have a driving licence an employer could understand that once you start earning a salary, you could organize your transport. Employers want to employ candidates they can rely on. In modern days, life is so fast paced and extremely busy that both working and living require a car, some jobs require you to work late hours, and others will require you to travel to customers even if you are still a junior. Having a personal car and by extension a drivers’ licence is not an option but a must. Having a car frees one from being a defendant to being independent in many ways and it put you above other candidates as a reliable person, they can count on you.

If you are still at University or at school and you are reading this and in your mind you think ” As I don’t have enough money, I’m even struggling to pay for my subjects, I will do my licence first thing when I start working”. This might sound like a good reason but the truth of the matter, this could cost you a lot in your career. Learning how to drive is not an easy matter, it might take you time that you won’t have once working. To be on a safe side, consider a driving licence as your last subject that you need to complete before you graduate, if you had to save for some time for your university/school fees, don’t forget to include the driving licence cost and time as well.

Communication Skills

Communication encompasses so many different aspects of business and everyday life that it is no surprise it is so highly valued by employers. Employers expect employees to have the ability to carefully and clearly articulate themselves, to express what they are thinking and easily engage with fellow employees. When we talk about communication, we are not limiting it to verbal communication only. Communication skills include the ability to listening, speak, and write correctly are all essential skills within any workplace. Communication skills play an essential role in almost every aspect of business. For example listening skills are always overlooked by graduates but they forget that listening and understanding what other people are asking or explaining to you, you will be a more productive and effective employee. Employers looking to hire a new team member often evaluate communication skills during the interview and throughout email or telephonic correspondence. So when you are sending out your CV or application forms, pay great attention the way you are writing. Many people have landed jobs because they gained the confidence of their employers with their strong communication skills.

>> Read also on student companion: How to write a great cover letter for your CV

>> Read also on student companion: How to write a great professional Curriculum Vitae (CV)

>> Read also on student companion: Top 20 Job Interview Questions and Best Answers

Positive Attitude

As simple as it appears, positive attitude is one of the most important key elements of any candidate, a positive attitude says more about an individual’s work potential than anything else. You have to demonstrate professionalism about your work, you have to cooperate with fellow employees. Employers are looking for people who can work very well into a team, people with high energy for productive working, and passion for one’s work. Employees who can embrace the culture of the company and be able to work with people from different background, people of different gender, sex, race, nationality and religion. People who can demonstrate a true desire to get the job done well, people who are eager to learn new things. Such a candidate who can demonstrate these qualities can definitely bring a lot to a company.

Before we finish, there is one point that we cannot ignore here and it what graduates don’t like to see in any job advert: Work experience!

Experience is Not Optional

As we have said it before, in the past employers were a little more patient about the profitability of new hires as they were expecting these new employees to work for them for 20 years or more, nowadays 5 years with one employer is considered long-term employment, this simply means employers can no longer afford to hire employees they will have to train for a long period of time. As a newly graduate you have to demonstrate a certain degree of real-world experience and knowledge to bring to the table if you want to get hired.

This raises the old and often cited dilemma, the chicken and egg equation: How do you get experience if you need experience to land a job in the first place? Answer: Through internship or community service even unpaid guys, you need something on your CV! If you were part of a team that was involved in a big project that you designed and implemented, this could be counted experience as well. If you were a tutor, a lab assistant or Student Representative, the list is endless, just think about something that you did that gave you real-world exposure, it does not have to be in your field even though in your field would be more advantageous, but any really life skills where you had contact with other employees and customers can count as experience, part-time jobs at restaurant as a waiter, in a barber shop, security guard could all come in handy here.