You’re in the process of building up the knowledge needed to carry out your future job. While it’s essential to have a good understanding of the academic concepts behind your work (which you’ll be able to demonstrate with the shiny certificate that gets handed to you at the end of your degree), there are numerous practical skills that all employers are always on the lookout for.
These skills aren’t necessarily things that you’ll pick up in uni (although some of them are), so it’s a good idea to find extracurricular ways of demonstrating your ability.
Unless you’re going straight into a freelance position, it’s highly unlikely that you’re not going to come into contact with the other employees in your future job. Whether you choose to join a small company or a large one, you’ll be working with staff in various departments on various tasks, and you need to demonstrate to your employer that you’ve got what it takes to work with others.
There are a few ways that you can demonstrate your teamwork mindset to your potential employer. Place emphasis on any group projects that you’ve undergone throughout your degree, and highlight points in the process where you listened to the advice of others or took control of the group, because your employer will want to know how well you actually work with other people.
If you haven’t carried out any group projects in uni, you can draw attention to extracurricular activities that highlight your ability to work in a team. This can be anything from team sports to playing in a band – anything that outlines your ability to work alongside others.
Throughout your studies, you’ll start to build a good understanding of what it’s like working to deadlines. When you eventually enter the world of work, your employer will usually expect you to stick rigidly to the deadlines that you are set – it could be that the work you do is time-sensitive, or another employee’s job is reliant on you completing your part on time.
For this reason it’s important that you demonstrate to your employer that you’re organised enough to meet these deadlines. A good way to do this is to highlight how you managed your time throughout your degree, and how this then led to your success at an academic level.
Another way to illustrate your ability to organise yourself is to take up relevant side-projects while you study. Not only does this demonstrate a level of enthusiasm for the role, but it also shows your employer that you have the ability to manage your time properly, while balancing various projects at once.
Communication is an essential skill to master, regardless of the career that you choose to go into. Wherever you work, you’ll have to communicate with others, whether it’s your colleagues, your boss, or your clients: you’ll have to explain (sometimes difficult) concepts to other people.
You’ll have to communicate with people both verbally and in writing, so it’s important that you demonstrate that you’ve got the ability to piece together clear and structured arguments. Fortunately, your university will give you plenty of opportunities to prove yourself as a great communicator, and you can use this to your advantage in interviews.
Explain to your potential employer how you’ve communicated concepts through presentations, and how you’ve produced verbal arguments in your essay writing. Pair this with any extracurricular activities such as online blogging, then present yourself with confidence, and the employer should snap you up.
It’s always good to keep in mind that your potential employer doesn’t want to hire staff who are going to stay at the bottom of the ladder. They want to hire people who will develop and become assets to their organisation, and an important element of this – for you – is assuming further responsibilities as the job role progresses.
As your career progresses you’ll be expected to take control of certain situations, and possibly even lead others in the role that you were previously doing. For this reason, employers are on the lookout for people with strong leadership skills, even if the role doesn’t directly require you to lead others.
If you need to demonstrate leadership skills in an interview (which you will), you can use any group-work that you might have done in uni to your advantage, highlighting how you took an authoritative role in the project and assessed the skills of your group to produce the most effective results – remember, results-driven answers will impress your employer.
Even if your potential employer offers a great training scheme, they still don’t want to have to hold your hand throughout the process. They will be there to support you, but they need to know that you’ll be able to take the initiative to carry out work on your own as well. For this reason, it’s key that you demonstrate that you can show self-discipline, learn new concepts, and take control of your own time.
When you’re in uni, you’re probably used to rolling out of bed late in the afternoon, making yourself some toast and then heading off to your lecture, but your employer needs to know that you’ve got the self-discipline to get out of bed in the morning and make it into work on time.
You can demonstrate self-discipline by explaining to your potential employer how you managed your time through the busy exam period in uni, balanced any side projects while you studied, and managed to hold down a part-time job throughout your studies.
Learn How to Develop Your Skills Beyond Uni
Permanent employment might seem like it’s a long way off at the minute, but it’s always good to give yourself a head start, especially when it comes to your future career. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, take a look at our blog for tips on student life and much more.