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There has been a lot of research about what employers are looking for in potential employees and typically it results in lists of skills, abilities and work behaviours like this:
These skills and abilities are 'generic' which means they are likely to be necessary in most types of employment. The way in which generic skills are demonstrated depends on the requirements of the particular job - so for example, while lots of jobs need communication skills, jobs involving selling, teaching, explaining or advocating are likely to need communication skills at a higher level than most.
Where skills and abilities are essential in order to fulfil the requirements of the job, they are called 'specific' skills or abilities. Specific skills might include, using equipment, having theoretical knowledge/degree subject experience or know-how.
What employers want is likely to be determined by business/organisational needs. Taking the example of communication skill further, a firm of lawyers will be seeking good general communication skills in all staff, sophisticated oracy and advocacy skills among those training to be barristers, and strong interviewing skills among solicitors.
Therefore, even generic skills (abilities, behaviours and knowledge) are all context-specific, so it's important to think carefully about the specific workplace that these skills will be needed.
Generic skills that employers look for include:
How you demonstrate these is again dependent on the workplace setting and the type of job. For example, the term 'creativity' means something very different in an advertising agency than it does in a transport business.
One employer's understanding of 'using initiative' might be considered 'risk taking' by another. For example, in organisations where following procedures systematically is important (such as in healthcare) opportunities to use initiative will be more limited than in organisations that depend upon new ideas and taking a chance that something might work, such as the entertainment industry.
Finally, many employers require graduate employees to be enterprising. The term enterprising is often associated with being an entrepreneur, that is being self-employed and initiating your own business ideas.
You might be surprised that 'intrapreneurialism' (the ability to be enterprising within an employed role) is fast becoming a sought after attribute.
In order to demonstrate entrepreneurialism and intrapreneurialism you must show that you:
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