Your degree isn’t enough. Employers expect more …
When you are studying, your degree feels like the world. Your everything. It has your focus and your energy. With so much invested into it … you expect it to give alot back to you.
But have you considered that perhaps there is more that needs your attention? Where do your priorities lie? It may be that you want to capitalise on your degree by applying for internships and volunteer positions. You could be attending networking events and building genuine connections with professionals in your industry. Or perhaps you are at the very end of your tether and are just putting your head down and getting through the last few months.
Wherever you are – have you stopped to consider that you can’t just rely on your degree to land your dream job?
I know, I know … isn’t that the whole point of the degree though? Isn’t that what you spent all those years and all that money on?
Well yes. And let’s be clear … this is not another degree bashing article. We are very big believers in higher education. But let’s also be real and acknowledge that it is not the only thing employers consider when hiring you.
Regardless of your degree – to succeed in a modern work environment – you need a whole set of skills that are additional to the fancy piece of paper you worked 3 – 4 years for. Skills that will benefit your boss, team, company and yourself by having – communication, resilience, leadership, critical thinking/problem solving and emotional intelligence. Hear me out – these aren’t just buzzwords – they are a set of traits that are going to ensure you present as a solid candidate once you start applying for positions in your industry.
And it’s not enough to just list these traits on your resume, include them in your cover letter or pop them on your LinkedIn – you need to have tangible examples of how you’ve built these skills and what situations you’ve used them in. Employers are pretty cluey on when you are rattling off words for the sake of an impression and when you are genuinely speaking about experiences.
Let’s talk about the big ones …
1 // Communication
Reflect on the last group assignment you worked on. I’m sure there was one or two people in your group that you found difficult to converse with and who maybe didn’t share the same work ethic as you. How did you handle this situation? Were you upfront from the beginning about what you expected out of team, did you ask what was expected of you? Were you quite blunt in your Facebook messages or did you refrain from speaking at all?
Communication skills are important. How you communicate reflects on who you are and how well you communicate can be the make or break between landing a prospective role.
Tip: Make a conscious effort to think before you speak. Is what you’re about to say going to add or take away from a discussion in your workplace? When sending an e-mail, pay attention to the tone and purpose of it.
2 // Resilience
noun. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
When was the last time you checked in on your resilience levels? Let’s do it right now together. Think about the last goal you set yourself that you didn’t achieve. What factors contributed to this? What happened when you realised it wasn’t going to work out? How did you handle the situation?
Tip: We move through our career journey’s by learning and growing from our mistakes. If we build our resilience it means that we can bounce-back from setbacks quickly and are able to handle problems with eagerness and zest instead of giving up with a defeated attitude.
3 // Leadership
Leadership is no longer a skill reserved for employees in management positions – it is a key skill for any employee looking to make a serious impact on his or her workplace. Leadership involves ownership of responsibilities, contribution of ideas, confidence and adaptability to change.
Tip: Regardless of what industry you wish to build your career in or which position you seek – leadership is a key enterprise skill that will set you apart from countless applications in your field. Empower and back yourself to be the best you can be – confidence in yourself will show an employer you trust your skillset and want to make a difference to their company!
4 // Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
You are going to require this enterprise skill in almost any interview you attend and any job you perform. An employer wants to see how you handle situations and your thought process when arriving at a conclusion to a question.
In fact, the reality is that all businesses face challenges and problems on a daily basis at all levels. Whether you are an architect, a doctor or a marketing grad … if you are someone who can get their hands dirty and show you are a problem solver, you will quickly make yourself invaluable.
Tip: To build this skill, there’s generally 5 stages of critical thinking to start applying to problems:
> Knowledge – Reflect on your experiences of overcoming similar challenges. What worked/what didn’t?
> Awareness – Look at the problem from different perspectives.
> Application – Before taking action, review all possible solutions that could lead to the ideal result.
> Analysis – Use the information you have to foresee the effect of each possible solution, including the worse-case scenario.
> Evaluation – You need to be able to back up and be confident in the solutions you present.
5 // Emotional Intelligence
In our digitally-enhanced world (and workplace), it is more important than ever to maintain a sense of self and social-awareness. Think of emotional intelligence as having these core traits: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.
Tip: You can build on your emotional intelligence by maintaining an awareness of ‘self’ regardless of what situation you are in. Pay attention to how you interact with your co-workers, peers, friends and even family members. As with communication – think before you speak and judge how your actions may affect others. This is also a good article to read and work through.