Working life

Get the skills you need for a new world of work.

22 Jun 2023, 13:23

While the working world continues the process of recovery from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, graduates are having to develop new job skills, as the world of work has undergone a fundamental shift.

Man giving a presentation at work

For graduates, figuring out what your potential new employer ‘wants’ in terms of job skills can be daunting. However, rest assured that a core set of skills will always be in demand by employers, these include both hard (technical) skills and soft (interpersonal or personal attributes). Let’s have a look at what is most commonly in demand for graduate jobs.

Communication and personality

Ok, so your personality itself isn’t a skill but how you communicate it is. A major part of making a good impression on an employer comes down to your personality and how you communicate that in an interview. Being able to communicate naturally and personably, both to your manager or supervisor or to other members of your team make you a good person to work with, and likely an effective communicator with other aspects of the business and with external stakeholder and clients. What identifies a good communicator? Someone who can deliver messages, and sometimes complex information, while remaining calm and professional.

Being flexible and adaptable

Focus and discipline are key in graduate roles, you need to apply yourself to your work in order to grow, develop and learn. However, adaptability is the ability to react to situations in a swift and calm manner. During the early stages of your career, employers will want to see how diverse your skill set is and as a result you may need to step out of your comfort zone and ‘stretch’ your skills to reach a new target or objective. Being versatile is highly valued, but never be afraid to ask for information or direction.


Employers hire graduates to develop their pipeline for future leadership positions. While it may seem early in your career to be considering leadership, rest assured that it is being considered by your managers and employers. However, leadership takes many forms, and you can demonstrate it in your daily work, even at graduate level. Like at third level, you can lead on running a project or on hitting a deadline, motivating those around you and striving to succeed.


Not cockiness, confidence. Confidence can mean the self-awareness to be humble and ask for direction or the adaptability to recognise that you have the ability to lead in a certain situation. Particularly as a result of the pandemic, you have spent a lot of time working and studying independently, honing skills you may not have been aware that you were developing. You’re likely far more prepared than you think to let the best of your abilities shine. Assured confidence is always valued, no matter what the job.

Seizing the initiative

You’ve probably been in situations at third-level, where you could see a solution to a particular assignment or project that perhaps others couldn’t or hadn’t considered yet. Initiative is the ability to step into a gap and move something forward. True initiative is for the benefit of you and those around you and doesn’t symbolise progress at someone else’s expense. It means that instead of waiting for something to happen, you ask the questions and show that you are willing to learn and seize and opportunity.


To use a phrase from a famous Irish international player, you win, or you learn. You will learn most from your mistakes and those around you will learn a lot about you in how you deal with those mistakes and move forward, demonstrating resilience.


If you really want the job, spend some time doing follow-up research before you apply. Find out as much background information as you can: read their website and annual report; use a search engine to find out what others are saying about them. What kind of organisation is this? Who does it do business with? Who are its competitors? And what difference can you make to the company? The candidates that tick the most boxes will be the ones who are shortlisted. Go on to LinkedIn, find some people who are working in that company. What skills do they have – and can you match your skills to theirs?

Hard skills in demand

  • IT skills

  • Technical graphics

  • Technical writing

  • Analytical skills

  • Reporting on data

  • Financial skills

  • Coding and debugging

  • Commercial acumen and awareness

Soft skills in demand

  • Communication

  • Empathy

  • Leadership

  • Emotional intelligence (a combination of communication and empathy)

  • Resourcefulness

  • Initiative and adaptability

  • Resilience

What are transferable skills?

These are skills that, like hard and soft skills, will be highly valued in any graduate position

  • Reliability

  • Team management

  • Writing and verbal communication

  • Project management

  • Language skills

  • Time management

  • Problem solving

  • Creativity

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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