Enterprise and entrepreneurial skills: seizing opportunities and seeing them through
Graduate recruits with enterprise and entrepreneurial skills are an asset to a company because they will be able to spot gaps in the market and innovate, and because they are commercially minded. Graduate job seekers can showcase their strengths in this area by demonstrating a capacity for independent work and original thinking, as well as sound business sense and an interest in the market that their potential employer operates in.
Being enterprising and entrepreneurial involves spotting an unexploited opportunity and making the most of it: essentially, identifying a gap in the market and filling it. However, it can also be about trying something new or improving a process to increase efficiency or boost results.
Enterprise and entrepreneurial skills are effectively a combination of other competencies, including:
- commercial awareness
- creative and innovative thinking
- prioritisation and time management
- problem solving
- communication, negotiation and persuasiveness skills
How to show your enterprise and entrepreneurial skills
The first places to refer to your entrepreneurial streak are on your CV and in answer to any application form question about your greatest achievements, creativity or innovative thinking. If you have, for example, set up a business on the side of your degree to make some extra money – that’s enterprising. If you did an internship that involved completing a business improvement project – that’s enterprising.
However, your examples do not have to be business-related. If you were part of a society and helped to set up a new event or came up with a new way of marketing the student society to potential members, that’s equally enterprising. If you came up with a novel or innovative way to raise money for charity or to fund a gap year, that’s also enterprising. You can develop your entrepreneurial skills through your extracurricular activities and through coming up with fresh ideas or projects in your part-time job; it's not all about setting up your own business. You could also get involved in social enterprises – organisations that use business methods for social or environmental benefits. You're bound to have opportunities to hone your enterprise skills if you commit to volunteering, for example through the #iwill campaign that promotes social action among young people aged 10 to 20.
Enterprise skills are also likely to be assessed through practical exercises such as a business case study, usually an assessment centre. This typically involves assessing information about a business in a particular situation and coming up with recommendations to benefit the company. It will be easier to approach this with confidence if your industry knowledge is up to date.
Assessment centre exercises can also reveal how enterprising you are by testing your ability to solve problems and think creatively.
Graduate recruiters will seek to establish whether candidates have the commercial awareness that is a fundamental aspect of enterprise skills by asking interview questions that test market knowledge.