Your degree will have taught you a host of subject-specific and transferable skills and knowing how to sell them to employers is vital in a competitive job market
While the knowledge and skills required may vary from job to job, it's imperative that in your application forms you convey how you've gained the core attributes that you think would make you a worthwhile addition to the organisation.
Here are some of the most common key skills that graduate employers will expect you to demonstrate. It's vital that you understand these skills, and how you can show that you've developed them, in order to write a successful job application.
This refers to your ability to deal with setbacks, and is something that graduate employers have increasingly started to consider. How well do you cope with stressful situations or when something goes wrong? How do you react to unexpected changes or problems that occur during a project?
You aren't expected to be unaffected by these events, but you need to be able to show that you react to them positively and are able to develop strategies to deal with them.
This is about how clearly you put across your ideas and your ability to listen to others. Employers will be keen to see how you build rapport, persuade and negotiate with people.
Use your CV or application form to outline specific written and verbal examples of when you've put these skills into practice. This might be any public speaking you've done, or writing for a student newspaper, for example. Show how you tailored your message to the target audience.
Effective leadership and management
Even if you're not applying for a management position, you'll still need to demonstrate to employers that you have the potential to motivate and lead others in order to achieve common objectives.
On application forms, detail situations where you've had the opportunity to plan and coordinate tasks during your degree or in extra-curricular activities such as university clubs and societies. The ability to solve problems and conflicts is always highly valued by recruiters.
Planning and research skills
To accomplish certain work tasks, you may need to come up with a suitable strategy and plan of action. This could involve seeking out relevant information from various sources. How you analyse, interpret and report these findings is what's important here.
Highlight the relevant skills that you've developed during your degree course - reading around a subject and analysing that information before writing an essay, for instance, or interpreting the results of a scientific experiment.
The specific activities of your job will always be viewed in the context of the business's goals and what it's trying to achieve. By successfully directing your work towards these objectives - prioritising your duties, working well under pressure and managing your time effectively - you can demonstrate that you're flexible and can be trusted.
You could give examples of times when you've had to balance your university work with other commitments in order to meet multiple deadlines.
Teamwork and interpersonal skills
Most graduates will have had the chance to work in teams during their time at university and in part-time jobs or work placements. Employers will be looking at your individual contribution towards achieving common goals.
This isn't just about times when you've led a team successfully, but also when you've been an effective team member taking instructions and direction from somebody else.
Find out how to incorporate these skills into your application forms by looking at example questions and answers.
Relevant work experience
Having some work experience related to the job you're applying for is increasingly important given the competition for graduate roles. It is something that most employers will look for when assessing candidates.
For advice on how to secure a placement and make the most of the opportunities available, see work experience and internships.
Find out more
- Explore the skills you'll gain on your course at what can I do with my degree?
- Take a look at an example of a skills-based CV.