When you begin your job search campaign as a fresh graduate, you will find that there are many candidates applying for a particular position. With no past experience, you only have your academic performance to show to the employers. But sometimes your batch-mates with much lesser scores might get a job before you. This means that apart from technical knowledge, employers use certain other parameters to judge freshers. It is these parameters or what we call as ‘work place skills’ that often set one candidate apart from the other.
I am sure you are fairly clear about what you are looking for when you apply for a job –a reputed organization; rewarding salary; great work environment; opportunities for growth and above all enjoy what you are doing.
However, have you stopped to think what the employer is looking for in you as an applicant – a potential employee? While one cannot deny the fact that a good educational background is the first criteria used to shortlist resumes; most companies today prefer candidates who have mastered some essential soft skills apart from bookish knowledge.
Understanding what employers truly want in advance of your interview, is extremely important as it can help you sell yourself as an asset to the organization. Without this understanding, you will not be able to convince your interviewer why you are the most suitable candidate for the position you have applied for.
Let us have a look at some of these critical employability skills that are universally sought after by employer.
- Communication Skills:Undoubtedly, the most important of all skills is oral and written communicationskillsgiven the absolute criticality of successful communication to any business. If you browse through job applications on sites for job seekers, the single most repeated phrase in the qualification requirement is ‘Candidates with good/excellent communication skills’. If you do not know how to communicate with others, you will find it hard to get your message across. It would be hard to speak your mind or open up to someone about what you think and feel or even put your ideas on the table. Your ability to communicate well will be one of the most noticeable things about you during the application process.
To start with make sure your resume is well written and free of spelling and grammatical mistakes. During the interview, you should be confident, clear and concise. Do remember to smile and make eye contact. Shake hands and remember names. Remember that a lot of communication is non-verbal – this is one of the reasons why most application processes involve face-to-face interviews at some point or the other.
- Interpersonal Skills and Teamwork:Teamwork is all about building positive working relationships that help everyone to achieve positive goals and business objectives. The ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict with co-workers is essential given the amount of time spent at work each day and that most jobs today involve working in one or more work- groups / teams.
You’ll need to prove that you’re not only a team player but that you also have the ability to manage and delegate to others and take on responsibility. When you’re explaining your teamwork skills on a job application form or at an interview, you will need to emphasise how your personal contribution allowed the team to reach its full potential. The best way to show off any skill is to explain how you used it to get results. However, with teamwork you will have to show how you achieved a group result.
- Problem-Solving and Creativity: Problem solving is all about using logic, as well as imagination, to make sense of your situation and come up with an intelligent solution. Today, employers realize that with increasing competition and economy changes, the company’s strategies must constantly change. Employers are therefore looking for applicants who don’t have a set way of doing things but rather are able to ‘think out of the box’ and come up with innovative solutions to new and complex challenges faced by the organization.
Whether you are putting together an application or preparing for an interview, having examples of problem solving experience is a good idea. You will need to explain how you identified the problem, came up with a solution and implemented it. Quantifiable results are good, and obviously the more complex the situation, the more impressive a successful result is.
- Planning and Organizing Skills:
This is about showing that you can prioritize as well as work efficiently and productively. Employers want people who are not only productive, but who can manage their time so well that they can get more done, and done well.
During your interview, it would be good if you can demonstrate to your interviewers how you decide what is important to focus on and get done, and how you go about meeting deadlinesby giving examples of when you have successfully planned and organised a project or an event.. Remember your answers should reflect that you have the ability to determine the important from the unimportant tasks; to prevent distractions and prevent from disrupting your work; and that you can efficiently meet deadlines without a problem.
- Flexibility:Organizations function in a dynamic environment and hence recruiters want applicants to be able to demonstrate that they can adapt to changing circumstances and environments They want people with the personal confidence to respond positively to change and to new ways of working; people who are prepared to rise to the challenge of dealing with the unfamiliar and show they can cope with the new or unexpected.
It is not good enough to simply say “I can adapt to situations” or “I am flexible in the way I work.” You have to prove that you are flexible by giving appropriate examples. You can draw on situations like balancing your study commitments with part time work to help you demonstrate your adaptability.
- Logical and Analytical skills:Recruiters want people who can see that there might be a better way of doing something; people who don’t panic or give up when things go wrong but who will seek a way around the problem.
This skill is often assessed by interviewers when they present with you with a hypothetical challenge or logical problem during the interview.There is usually no right or wrong answer to these questions: the interviewers are seeking to assess your logical thinking and common sense. You may need to ask further questions to clarify the situation and gather more information. You can expect your answers to be challenged. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with the answer you have given – just that the interviewers are trying to find out how you have arrived at your solution to the problem. They may also be testing you out to see how you cope with pressure and how well you can argue a point.
Since our education system in India is structured largely around academic learning, it does not produce industry ready products, as a fresher you may need to take initiative and acquire these skills. Talk to seniors who are already on the job or use the internet to develop the relevant skills.
Better still, take up a course that can help to groom and prepare you for the corporate world. Whatever skills you mention as your strengths to impress your future employer, you should keep yourself ready with suitable examples in support of them.
Employment opportunities for freshersinIndia have increased in manifold over the last few years. The only way to have an edge over others in the job market is to assess yourself and hone your employabilityskills accordingly. Employers look for certain basic skills and if you can groom yourself to meet their expectations, you can secure your dream job in no time.