What skills do employers value most in their graduates?

With competition for graduate jobs ever increasing, what skills are employers really looking for in their graduates?  Julia Constable talks to business representatives at the LUBS Night of Exchange and reviews the night as a whole…

Last Thursday night, Revolution Electric Press was buzzing with conversation from students and employers alike. ‘LUBS: A Night of Exchange’ was organised by the Leeds University Business Society, with the aim of giving students from all years the opportunity to meet with employer representatives outside the boardroom. This informal environment broke the barrier between employer and employee and provided a relaxed atmosphere for students to ask open and honest questions about the job opportunities available to them. As a free event, open to all LUBS Society members, with complementary food and an open bar, this event successfully combined the social side of working life with the gravitas of a networking event.

At this event, there was one question I wanted to find the answer to: what skills do employers value most in their graduates? Whether you’re looking for part-time work experience, potential Summer Internships or Year Abroad Placements, it is important to know the options that are out there and the growth and development opportunities that employers can offer you. More importantly, what skills can you offer to potential future employers?

I spoke to Matt Elliott, a Project Manager in the field of Technology at RBS, who explained that graduates should be creative and open minded in order to be able to adapt to new environments within the business. He suggested that RBS is reluctant to “pigeon-hole” new recruits and instead aims to give them the opportunity of working in several different roles through job rotation, in order to find the position that they are most passionate about and would want to commit to long-term. Naturally, computer literacy is important as technological skills are necessary for everyday operations, particularly at RBS, as Facebook Workplace is becoming increasingly integrated. Perhaps the most useful advice he could give to future recruits was to align your values with the culture of the business to make sure that the business is a “good fit” for you and that your values compliment those of the organisation that you work for.

Karandeep Sohel, Head of Energy at Charlton Morris, suggested that passionate and “highly motivated” candidates are particularly attractive to employers; recruits who show a willingness to learn and want to be proactive participants within the business are highly valued. Furthermore, creative and innovative candidates who are friendly and outgoing are extremely attractive, particularly for Charlton Morris, in order to break the stigma surrounding the recruitment field, which is sometimes seen as “old-fashioned” and at times aggressive.

Overall, the general consensus from employers that I gained during the evening was that less tangible soft skills are just as important as technical hard skills. Although both are equally important, employers are willing and able to teach new recruits technical hard skills specific to different job positions. However, soft skills such as good communication, self-motivation and flexibility demonstrate your potential to employers and show that the raw materials are there to be transformed, and if your values align to the culture of the business, the business will have the right tools to help you reach your full potential.

By Julia Constable 

Photo from (Goldenkeyhq.com)



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