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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.

essential skills and competencies

Be on top of the basics: essential skills and competencies

You need to show employers you've mastered essential skills such as writing, reading, numeracy, presentation, organisation and the ability to work under pressure.


Commercial awareness skills

Commercial awareness: it's how the industry fits together

Graduates with good commercial awareness are aware of business trends and the 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, and graduate job hunters need to show they can listen as well as speak out.


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Computer skills: how to meet graduate recruiters' expectations

Employers expect this generation’s graduates to have strong IT skills as a matter of course, so you need to be willing to take on new technologies.


Creativity skills

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.


Customer care skills

Customer care: 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.


Emotional intelligence: what it takes to work with others

Graduate recruiters look for employees with emotional intelligence because it helps them work with colleagues who have different ways of behaving and interacting.


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.


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.


Problem solving skills

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 step up with a solution, you’ll stand a better chance.


Flower growing from crack in concrete

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.


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

Graduates are often hired as trainee managers and need to be capable of leading and taking responsibility in order to get the best from their teams.


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.


Time management skills

Time management: being ahead of the game

Knowing when and where to direct your efforts will help you succeed in your first graduate job. Good time-management skills will enable you to handle your workload without losing control.