Skills and competencies for graduates

skills and competencies

Graduate recruiters look for specific job skills and competencies. These are what they have judged you need to do the job and work in their organisation. They might seem straightforward in job descriptions: communication, teamwork and problem solving are just a few. However this is the most common area of confusion for students and graduates when writing a CV, job application or attending an interview. It's when you might find yourself asking: ‘what does commercial awareness really mean?’ and ‘how can I show my time management skills on a CV?’ This section will help you understand the different competencies graduate employers expect, provide tips on how to develop them, and give examples of how they are assessed and how to demonstrate your abilities.

Team management: prove you're a bit more than an entry-level hire

Graduates are often hired as trainee managers and need influence and responsibility for others to make their team run well. This is about how you take the lead and get the best from people.

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Commercial awareness: it's how the industry fits together

The most eligible graduates know how the business world works. They are aware of trends in the sector, and understand how they will affect their would-be employer. This is the beginning of commercial awareness.

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Creativity: graduate recruiters like fresh thinking

Innovation, imagination and intuition… creativity takes all three. A successful graduate career involves making both big breakthroughs and inspired evolutions.

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Problem solving: the mark of an independent employee

Line managers don’t like hiring graduates who will come running every time they’re out of their depth. If you can take the pressure, make sense of your situation and step up with a solution, you’ll stand a better chance.

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Teamwork: it's high on the graduate recruiters' wishlist

Teamwork has been identified by business lobbying organisation the CBI as one of the fundamental skills that employers look for and it's on the graduate recruiters' high priority list. Show you can collaborate, influence and compromise.

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Time management: being ahead of the game

Knowing when and where to direct your efforts can be crucial for graduate hires. Self-management and the ability to work independently mean that you can look ahead and handle a heavy workload without losing control.

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Managing ambiguity: the essential skill for career progression

Can you make the best possible decision based on the information that's available? Find out why graduate recruiters value the ability to manage ambiguity.

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Computer skills: how to meet graduate recruiters' expectations

Employers expect this generation’s graduates to have IT skills as a matter of course. You have to be willing to take on new technologies, especially when someone turns and says, ‘You’re young; how does this work?’

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Essential skills and competencies: be on top of the basics

To offer recruiters the best package possible, show them you've mastered the basics. That includes writing, reading, numeracy, presentation, organisation, stamina, confidence and the ability to work under pressure.

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Emotional intelligence: what it takes to work with others

We all have our own individual ways of behaving and interacting. Somehow we all have to work together. This takes emotional intelligence. You can understand why graduate recruiters want it.

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Customer care: the hard business skill with a soft edge

Every graduate employer knows that customer satisfaction is an investment in their business. Graduates need to give clients and customers the same care and attention they would give their boss.

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Enterprise and entrepreneurial skills: seizing opportunities and seeing them through

Using your initiative, being proactive, and getting things done without waiting for someone else to tell you to: that's enterprising. Graduates with strong enterprise skills can spot an opportunity and work its advantage.

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Communication: the skill that sustains information flow

The effective exchange of information is essential for a well-run business. Communication is more than what you say, though. For a graduate it's about about learning to listen, understand and deliver words and information that keep things moving.

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