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What makes you more employable?


Two recent overseas surveys posed questions to employers to find out what they want from their graduate recruits. The consensus is that employers want intelligent and enthusiastic individuals who can organise and plan their work and interact with others effectively. Some of these skills are already honed in the university or college, but others will need to be developed outside your studies. Your applications will be more convincing if you can point to a range of situations in which you developed the skills the employers seek and make yourself more employable. Here then are the highlights of the surveys.

University of Central England’s Employer Satisfaction survey
Recruiters were asked to rank 60 skills in order of importance. The top 12 listed as most important were:

  • Willingness to learn
  • Commitment
  • Dependability/reliability
  • Self-motivation
  • Team work
  • Communication skills (oral)
  • Co-operation
  • Communication skills (written)
  • Drive/energy
  • Self-management
  • Desire to achieve/motivation
  • Problem-solving ability

Association of Graduate Recruiters
Another research gave the picture of a complete graduate as requiring the following skills, which are rather similar to the UCE survey:

  • Self-awareness. Able to identify your skills, values, interests and core strengths clearly, and provide evidence of these abilities. Actively willing to seek feedback from others. Able to identify areas for personal, academic and professional growth.

  • Self-promotion. Able to define and promote own agenda. Can identify 'customer needs' (academic/community/employer) and promote own strengths in a convincing way.

  • Exploring opportunities. Able to identify, create, investigate and seize opportunities. Possess research skills to identify possible sources of information, help and support.

  • Action planning. Able to plan an effective course of action, such as implementing an action plan, organising time effectively and preparing contingency plans. Able to monitor and evaluate progress against specific objectives.

  • Networking. Aware of the need to develop networks of contacts. Able to define, develop and maintain a support network for advice and information.

  • Matching and decision-making. Understands personal priorities and constraints which includes the need for a sustainable balance of work and home life. Able to match opportunities to core skills, knowledge, values, interests etc. Able to make an informed decision based on the available opportunities.

  • Negotiation. Able to negotiate from a position of powerlessness. Able to reach 'win/win' agreements.

  • Political awareness. Understands the hidden tensions and power struggles within organisations. Aware of the location of power and influence within organisations.

  • Coping with uncertainty. Able to adapt goals in the light of changing circumstances. Able to take a myriad of tiny risks.

  • Development focus. Committed to lifelong learning. Understands preferred method and style of learning. Reflects on learning from experiences, good and bad. Able to learn from the mistakes of others.

  • Transfer skills. Able to apply skills to new contexts - a higher level skill in itself.

  • Self-confidence. Has an underlying confidence in abilities, based on past successes. Also has a personal sense of self-worth, not dependent on performance.