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Skills and competencies for graduates

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 or 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.

Be on top of the basics: essential skills and competencies

You need to show employers that you've mastered essential skills – such as numeracy, communicating clearly, organisation and drive – if you want to get a graduate job.

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Adaptability and flexibility: the skills that equip you for any challenge

What do employers mean when they seek adaptability and flexibility in their graduate hires? And how do they assess these qualities during interviews and assessment days?

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Analytical skills: the ability to make sense of data

Graduates who demonstrate their analytical thinking during a job interview or assessment centre will stand out from other candidates.

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Commercial awareness: it's how the industry fits together

Graduates with good commercial awareness are conscious of how economic and political trends can impact on their chosen industry and the employers they have applied to.

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Communication: the skill that sustains information flow

The effective exchange of information is essential in business. Good communication is two-way; graduate job hunters need to show they can listen as well as speak out.

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Creativity: graduate recruiters like fresh thinking

Different graduate professions require creative thinking in different ways: find out how best to demonstrate your creativity throughout the recruitment process.

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Customer service: the hard business skill with a soft edge

Customer satisfaction is vital for a business' success, so graduates need to give clients and customers the same care and attention they would give their boss.

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Emotional intelligence: a secret ingredient for career success

Emotional intelligence can help a graduate become the best at what they do, be the best colleague possible and achieve career success.

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Enterprise and entrepreneurial skills: seizing opportunities and seeing them through

Graduates with strong enterprise skills can spot an opportunity and use their initiative and a proactive approach to make the most of it.

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Influencing skills: inspiring confidence in others

If a graduate job involves project management, teamwork or working with clients, recruiters are likely to seek influencing skills. But what are influencing skills?

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Leadership and management: prove you’re more than an entry-level hire

Leaders set vision; managers get things done; the best graduate hires can do both. Find out how to develop your leadership potential.

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Managing ambiguity: the essential skill for career progression

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

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Managing up: the ability to make life easier for your boss

As a graduate in your first job, you might not have anybody to manage… apart from your boss. Find out how to manage up and how it will help you succeed.

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Problem solving: the mark of an independent employee

Problem-solving abilities are essential in virtually any graduate role you can think of. Discover how to develop your problem-solving skills and demonstrate them to eagle-eyed recruiters.

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Resilience: the ability to cope with setbacks

Many graduate employers look for resilience in their graduate hires, as it enables recruits to cope with change, problems and stress. Find out how to develop this essential quality and how it will be assessed by recruiters.

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

Teamwork is one of the fundamental skills 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, prioritisation and organisation: being ahead of the game

Knowing when and where to direct your efforts will help you succeed in your first graduate job.

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