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.
The best way to show off any skill is to explain how you used it to get results. However, with teamwork you will have to show how you achieved a group result.

Teamwork is all about being able to operate smoothly and efficiently within a group. Doing this draws on a number of other skills:

  • The ability to encourage and inspire other team members to perform better
  • The ability to compromise and ignore your own ego
  • Communication and other interpersonal skills such as negotiation, influence, advising and interpreting.

Which graduate employers want teamwork skills?

Teamwork is a high priority for most graduate recruiters. They may be interested in looking for individuals who can bring different strengths to teams – some graduates may be particularly good at monitoring or evaluating progress, others may urge the team on when it starts to flag and others may be great at contributing bright new ideas. But in the vast majority of graduate roles, being able to work well with colleagues is crucial.

Teamwork skills examples

When you’re explaining your teamwork skills on a graduate job application form or at interview, you will need to emphasise how your personal contribution allowed the team to reach its full potential. The best way to show off any skill is to explain how you used it to get results. However, with teamwork you will have to show how you achieved a group result.

If your team managed to bring in a troublesome project ahead of schedule and under budget because of something you did, this would be an excellent example. Similarly, if you were able to outperform rival teams, or win a competition because of your actions, this would be a great example.

How do I phrase it on a graduate CV?

Do say: ‘I helped my team to beat competing groups by encouraging a group atmosphere and supporting colleagues.’ What you need to do is explain why your team was successful, and how your own personal contributions positively affected that outcome.

Don’t say: ‘I lead my team to victory by personally beating all previous sales records.’ This is one of the few circumstances where you should not be emphasising your personal achievements.

Where can I get it?

You may have already gained teamwork skills without even realising it. If you haven’t already got a solid body of evidence to prove it, it’s never too late to make a start. The question is: where?

Sports clubs are an excellent place to build up teamwork skills. Obviously, it has to be a team sport, so golf and tennis are probably out of the picture. On the plus side, it doesn’t have to be at top flight level. Bonus points you competed at the Olympics, but joining a department hockey team is just as valid.

Quiz teams are also a good place to develop teamwork. You will frequently compromise with other team members, and sometimes back down on answers only to find that you were right. While you probably don’t want to give employers the impression that you are always in the pub, most will appreciate the relevance.

However, teamwork skills can be developed in many different extracurricular activities. Committees of student societies, work placements and part-time jobs are all good places to develop teamwork skills. Just remember to look out for concrete examples of your contribution to the team. You could save yourself time in the long run by recording them as you go along.