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What employers want? Get the working skills you need

Companies are looking for graduates to make an impact when they join their organisation, they want someone with the necessary skills and qualities so both the employee and the company can succeed. So how do you make yourself stand out as a candidate?
Too many applicants do not showcase their skills, qualifications and achievements in the right way to recruiters. It’s all about presenting your attributes in a way that spells ‘employability’

Most jobs which you apply for will be heavily over-subscribed, with a large amount of people applying for them. This will always be the case with good jobs, so don’t expect your application to miraculously stand out from the crowd! However, the good news is that the ‘crowd’ frequently sends in applications that are poorly prepared, have basic errors and will be quickly discarded by recruiters. Your mission is to get your application from inbox to ‘review’ box, by avoiding the dreaded delete button!

Of course, many companies now use online application forms in place of the traditional CV and cover letter, but the point is the same. Too many applicants do not showcase their skills, qualifications and achievements in the right way to recruiters. It’s all about presenting your attributes in a way that spells ‘employability’ to the recruiter, a blend of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills which will show you are a graduate that can make a smooth and successful transition to the working world.

So before you start putting together your application, sit down with a blank piece of paper and write down the skills which you think are relevant to the job you are applying for. Internships and work experience can give you lots of examples to draw on, and this is probably the most valuable thing you can do to boost your employability. Voluntary work, getting involved with clubs and societies and academic achievement can also feed into the arsenal of skills which you can use on your job hunt.

Every year, gradireland talks to employers to find out what skills and areas of knowledge they are looking for in graduate recruits, currently the skills they are seeking include:

Soft skills

  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Analytical skills
  • Motivation
  • Independent working

Hard skills

  • Fluency in a foreign language
  • Leadership skills
  • Writing skills
  • Project management
  • Numeracy skills

Areas of knowledge

  • IT/technology
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering
  • Business & Management
  • Science

Reading the job advertisement

Job specifications normally take quite an amount of time for an employer to collate. They need to think what function the job will fill within their organisation and what the exact tasks of the recruit will be. What you need to do is analyse the job specification and match your application to the skills they are looking for, where possible.

The job specification

A job ‘spec’ is essentially a blueprint for a job which outlines the skills, qualifications and attributes that a successful candidate should have. This specification is put together by Managers and HR staff, before it is often given to a creative or marketing department. A typical job spec uses headings such as ‘Are you a …..type of person?’ and then follows it up with details of required qualifications, experience and personal qualities etc. It’s essentially a list of boxes that your application has to tick in order for it to be shortlisted. But often, all the required information is not included in the job spec, because it’s designed in such a way as to give a creative and brand conscious impact as opposed to just a list of required qualifications. The recruiter will expect a successful graduate to have the initiative to do their research on the company. Many companies in the graduate market prefer to focus on selling their company or ‘brand’ to the graduate as opposed to a formal job posting.