Skills Employers Want in University Graduates

Skills Employers Want in University Graduates

Master these skills employers want in new graduates.

You may have got a 2:1 in your degree, but your time at university will have also taught you a whole host of transferrable skills employers want in job candidates. Below are six skills employers really value when looking to bring on recent graduates. So if you're on the hunt for a graduate job, read on to learn good skills employers look for, how to master them, and how to demonstrate you own them on your CV and in interviews.

1. The Ability to Work in a Team

Unlike your career as a student, where the success of your degree is largely dependent on yourself, the workplace depends on teams of people to get the job done. No surprise then that prospective employers will want to know if you can work well with lots of different personalities. You'll need to learn how to delegate, take direction, value differences of opinion, and play to your and your co-workers' strengths and weaknesses. It goes without saying that nobody likes the employee who wants to hog the spotlight.

If you've played in a sports team, taken part in drama or dance clubs, or even had a role in a university society, now is the time to talk about it as it will demonstrate that you know how to successfully work with a mixed bag of people.

2. Critical Thinking

Many potential employers use behavioural interview questions—phrases such as "tell me about a time when" or "give me an example of"—to assess a job candidate's critical-thinking ability. You may not have a ton of work experience, but that doesn't mean you have no experience whatsoever. After all, you must have experienced something at university or any part-time jobs you've had. Think about times when you were proactive, innovative, or highly responsive to a challenge and make sure you can relay this to interviewers in a clear and concise manner.

3. Attention to Detail

One of the most important skills employers want to see in potential employees is attention to detail. Getting the basics right in your application goes a long way in ensuring employers don't immediately dismiss you, (especially when most employers will have a huge stack of applications to get through). Simple things such as making sure your CV and cover letter don't have any typos and are grammatically correct are a great place to start! The last thing you want to do is spend ages on a job application only to be rejected by a basic error.

4. Leadership

Believe it or not, there are ways you can show possible employers that you have leadership potential before you even enter the workforce. If you held a leadership role in university (e.g., president of the French club or captain of your netball team), highlight it on your CV. If you emerged as the informal leader on a group project, talk about the experience during the job interview. Also, get letters of recommendation from previous managers, or lecturers, that speak about your leadership skills.

5. Strong Work Ethic

A strong work ethic is one thing employers look for when hiring recent graduates. You need to be committed to your job responsibilities and understand that doing your job is more than just getting paid—after all, a company stands for something beyond business and so should you. Showing up to your interview on time, acting with integrity and demonstrating that you fully understand (and agree with) what the business stands for will all work in your favour.

6. The Ability to Work Remotely

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a shift toward working from home and flexible scheduling. But, according to the Monster UK Future of Work report, 32% of recruiters are concerned about candidates' ability to be productive while working remotely. Some of the skills employers want to see in their remote workforce include:

  • Time Management: As you probably realised while trying to write essays for uni, your home is full of distractions. Talk about how you juggled your schedule as a student to reassure employers that you can ignore the laundry, your flatmates, and social media to get work done on time.
  • Organisational Skills: When you're at home, you need to prioritise tasks and stay organised without the support of co-workers or your manager. Share your strategies and tools during an interview to show that you have the organisational skills employers want.
  • Communication Skills: When you work from home, you rely on collaboration tools, video calls, and email to communicate, all of which are prone to technical problems and misunderstandings. Being clear, concise, and upfront during the recruitment process is key to showing employers that you're up for the challenge of remote communication.

Put Your Skills to Use in Your Job Search

You can put the skills employers want in future employees to use during your job search. Ready to test out your communication skills, critical thinking, and work ethic? Monster can help. From creating a CV to searching openings and nailing your interview, Monster can guide you through the application process and help you find a first job that's the right fit for you.