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Supporting Students & Graduates in developing and implementing career plans

What Employers Look For

The changing work environment

The world of work is changing fast. Huge changes have already taken place and there's plenty more to come!

  • Employers are moving from hierarchical structures to flatter, more democratic structures
  • Companies are relying on international strategic alliances to compete globally
  • Organisations are contracting out (or out-sourcing) non-core activities
  • Every job requires technology know-how
  • The majority of new jobs will be in the services sector
  • Companies are adopting a very strong customer focus
  • The world of work is global and companies have a strong need for employees with international and mobility skills

So, how will these changes affect you in your own work environment? Let's look at some of the changing patterns in graduate careers.

  • Fewer graduates are entering traditional graduate jobs
  • There's no such thing as a job for life and you can expect to change careers up to six times during your life
  • More graduates are working in small and medium-sized businesses
  • More graduates are becoming self-employed
  • Change is becoming part and parcel of working life and you will have to expect and plan for change
  • To remain 'employable' you will have to continue learning and develop new skills throughout your entire working life
  • Flexible working arrangements will allow you enjoy a more balanced lifestyle

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Skills employers look for in graduates

The top graduate employers were surveyed recently and asked to rate the various skills and attributes they expect graduates to possess. The results are as follows:

  1. Willingness to learn
  2. Dependability/reliability
  3. Self-motivation
  4. Team work
  5. Communication skills (oral)
  6. Communication skills (written)
  7. IT skills
  8. Numeracy skills
  9. Drive/energy
  10. Self-management
  11. Desire to achieve/motivation
  12. Problem-solving ability

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Career management skills

There's a lot of talk about Career Management Skills i.e. The skills you will need in order to do well in a challenging and changing work environment. For instance, you will need to be aware of the changing world of work, take responsibility for your own career and personal development and be able to manage the relationship between work and learning throughout all stages of your life. Let's look at some of these skills and relevant practical examples. Try identifying some that already apply to you.

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Promotion
  • Research Skills
  • Action Planning Skills
  • Adaptability and Flexibility
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Networking Skills
  • Teamworking Skills
  • Written Communication Skills
  • Oral Communication Skills
  • Presentation Skills

So how do you go about developing these skills? Well, you probably have quite a number of them already. Try thinking of some of the skills you have developed through full-time study e.g. team working, written communication skills, research skills etc. Or you may have acquired them through your CoOp placement or through part-time work. The Careers Service offers Career Management Skills modules or seminars and you should check if these are available to you. Alternatively, have a look at some of the Career Management Skills websites. Also, have you tried the new online Key Skills package which is on the UL network?

Here are some links that will help you develop career management skills;

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Taking action

There is no doubt that employers will continue to value degree qualifications. But it is also the case that your degree is just one of the things they consider important. In most cases, employers are interested in other skills known as Career Management Skills (available on-campus only). Before applying for any job, ask yourself:

  • What skills do I have?
  • Can I illustrate them by examples?
  • How will I describe them in my CV or at an interview?
  • What skills am I lacking?
  • How can I develop these extra skills?

There's always something you can do to develop skills and to build your personal profile.

  • Identify what Career Management Skills you already have developed through a work placement, summer work, part-time jobs, university studies or leisure time activities
  • Register for any Career Management Skills sessions advertised by the Careers Service. Also attend any presentations on Job Seeking Skills.
  • Check out any books, videos or websites that will help you identify what skills you have? (e.g. the AGCAS video ''Why am I here?, available in the Careers Library, deals with acquiring transferable skills)

Your work is done. Employers are waiting. Go for it!

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Page last modified: April 13 2015. Any comments to webmaster. Disclaimer

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