Competition to get into a graduate scheme is fierce; there are often several applicants 100 applicants for 1 open spot. A recent survey by the Financial Times showed what companies see as the most important skills for business students. While people skills and problem-solving skills were at the top of the list, highly specialised skills were less in the focus.
The upside of a business degree is its broad range of use, but since it’s so common graduates need to do a little more to stand out to recruiters. More often, it’s internships or relevant student jobs that you have taken during your studies that set apart the right candidates – mainly because it’s assumed that they already know a little about how a business works on the inside.
The top 10 graduate attributes or ‘employability skills’ in the 2015 Graduate Outlook were:
- Interpersonal and communication skills (58.3%)
- Cultural alignment/values fit (34.3%)
- Emotional intelligence; including self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation (26.2%)
- Reasoning and problem-solving skills (22.6%)
- Academic results (19.6%)
- Work experience (19.1%)
- Technical skills (14.4%)
- Demonstrated leadership (13.1%)
- Extracurricular involvement; for example clubs and societies (7.4%)
- Community/volunteer service (1.6%)
As you can see of the most valued skills, the top 4 are soft skills. It is not all about your academics and extracurriculars.
According to a 2017 study by LinkedIn, the soft skills most in demand for junior positions are:
- Communication skills
- Organisational skills
- Social skills
To successfully communicate your employability skills to employers, you first need to understand them. There are a range of ways to develop your skills and you need to think about the strategies that work best for you. Here are a number of ways to improve your employability:
- Work integrated learning (internships/placements/vacation work)
- Leadership programs