A recent study from the AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters) suggests that almost 50% of employers think that graduates don’t have the skills expected of them at the point of hiring. On average they reported that a quarter of their graduate intake are lacking essential soft skills.
But what exactly are soft skills?
They could be defined as ‘people skills’ or ‘interpersonal skills’, and essentially they cover your personal qualities, whereas hard skills are more about your ability to perform a task or activity. Soft skills could include things like teamwork, time management and verbal communication amongst others.
Depending on which course you’re studying, there might be plenty of opportunities to get involved in group projects, presentations and working to tight deadlines, but employers like to see that you’ve gained and developed skills from a range of activities (which could include part-time work, volunteering or joining an on-campus society).
Soft skills are transferable, i.e. they can be used in many different working environments, and will give you some excellent examples to use in an application or interview.
In this helpful article from the Independent, they list 7 key soft skills as essential for every graduate job-hunter. Remember, you’ll often see these skills listed in a person specification when applying to a role, so you could be asked to demonstrate them at an interview. By developing these skills across your studies, work experience, volunteering and getting involved in clubs and societies, you’ll have plenty of great examples to choose from.
We offer 1-2-1 appointments with a Careers Consultant where we can give you feedback on your CV, cover letter or application, to make sure you’re really selling your skills! Call 020 7882 8533 to book.
The Sustainability Team are offering free auditing training for students on the 1st June – this training opportunity will be valuable to students that are interested in working in the sustainability sector especially, but also students who would like experience of auditing in general.
Gain practical experience of environmental auditing to make your CV stand out in the competitive environmental sector.
Students will receive:
- A certificate to provide evidence of their experience
- Highly interactive training lead by qualified auditors
- Practical experience of conducting an environmental audit
9.30am–1pm – Auditor training and free lunch
2pm onwards – Students conduct at least 1 audit on campus in pairs
If you’re interested, sign up by emailing email@example.com or filling in this Google form.
Are you looking for a role where you will have a meaningful impact? Interested in working at a multi-million pound charity and social enterprise? Then look no further than the 2017 Students’ Union elections. There are over 40 positions you can nominate yourself for including full-time paid positions (salary £24.5K per annum) and part-time voluntary positions. Elected students will have a unique experience that gives them an incredible insight into the workings of the University, Union and commercial services, boosting your CV and enhancing your employability.
Elected students set the direction of the Students’ Union, deciding on student policy and running campaigns and projects to improve the student experience. For a full list of the positions available, click here http://www.qmsu.org/elections/positions.
Becoming an elected Officer at your Students’ Union offers excellent work experience that can be applied to a number of sectors, including the Civil Service, NGOs, the voluntary sector, social enterprise and the commercial sector.
Running your own campaigns and initiatives is a fantastic way to prove your initiative, resourcefulness and creativity to a future employer. You are supported to fulfil your ideas and take responsibility for your own projects, allowing you to stand out from the crowd and develop skills which are highly desirable in today’s competitive jobs market.
Tips and tricks to make yourself more employable
Emma Biliri, LLM Graduate
Ask yourself this; would you employ you? If the answer is yes, no need to read any further (but don’t say we didn’t warn you!). For me, the answer was a no – I had the grades, I was passionate, but who isn’t in our generation?
It has been 3 years since I graduated with an LLB degree from QMUL and 2 years since completing my LLM. I have since worked in numerous firms as a contractor and for the past year I am an Assistant Vice President of Information Security at Barclays.
What my journey from starting at QMUL to where I am now has taught me is that you are not the only one competing for that dream job – there are hundreds out there! Getting it, however, is not as hard as you think …
Network, Network, Network
You are probably already tired of receiving emails inviting you to different networking, panel or career events. Do not ignore them; invest in a nice suit, polish your shoes, do some research and go to as many as you can. Listening to what people of the field have to say is priceless. It gives you a perspective of the ever changing corporate world, and gives you the rare chance to shake hands with the people who could one day be reviewing your CV. Talk to them, ask them questions and tips. Don’t worry about looking over zealous – they were in the same position. When you graduate, having the card or the LinkedIn connection of the firm’s associate you met at one of these events could take your application a long way.
One way to get yourself noticed by employers is to ensure you have the skills that they look for. This could mean sharpening your Excel skills, gaining some basic knowledge of HTML, or maybe doing an introduction to business, marketing or accounting. It’s a great opportunity to build your CV, prove your interest in a particular career area, or try out a new subject. It also shows that you have the initiative and dedication to learn something on your own accord.
Read a few job descriptions for the type of roles you are interested in applying to and see what employers skills they look for. Are there any areas that you feel you can develop to boost your chances of getting selected?
If you attend careers events (see our calendar) you could also ask people working in the area you are interested whether they feel there are any skills that would be particularly useful. These might not necessarily be what you might expect. Journalists for example are required to take more of their own photos to accompany a story, so basic photography skills can be really valuable. Likewise if you are interested in marketing, some basic knowledge of HMTL or data analysis could also be beneficial.
There are a number of free courses that you can do online, many of which often require only 2-4 hours a week of your time:
There are also a huge number of free tutorials available via youtube.
If you would rather learn in a classroom environment, there are a huge number of colleges and adult education centres that offer evening, weekend and short courses in a range of subjects. You might like to browse http://www.hotcourses.com/ for opportunities in your area.
On the blog recently, we’ve been exploring some of the key skills that employers are looking for from candidates, and how you can demonstrate these in applications and interviews.
See part 1 (communication, teamwork & attention to detail) and part 2 (organisation, flexibility & responsibility).
Read on to find out about leadership and decision-making …
- Leadership comes in many forms, but essentially means leading a group of people and effectively delegating tasks and motivating others to achieve success.
- You may have work experience in a leadership role, for example in a part-time retail position as team leader or till supervisor. This involves delegating tasks and ensuring staff are happy and motivated, and working to the best of their ability. Perhaps you led a team of volunteers in a summer job, or took part in QProjects, where you were assigned the role of Project Leader. Think about how you led the group – how did you allocate tasks? How did you monitor progress? Did you encounter any problems, and if so, how did you resolve them?
- Outside of work, QMUL is an excellent place to develop your leadership skills. Group projects form part of many degree courses, and offer the opportunity to lead a project team. This could be a piece of coursework or a presentation, and is a great example of working with others and encouraging them to contribute, whilst individually overseeing the organisation of the project from start to finish.
- Being captain of a sports team demonstrates leadership skills – how do you delegate tasks on the sports field? How do you encourage feedback and suggestions from your team-mates? Perhaps you’ve led your team to success, or made changes to the training schedule as a result of consulting your team.
- As a leader, there may be times when you need to demonstrate flexibility, and take responsibility for the actions of the team/group – see Developing your skills (part 2: organisation, flexibility & responsibility) for further advice.