What employers REALLY look for (the value-add beyond your qualification)

#1 Many students jump into a university degree and expect that at the end of their three to five years of undergrad study they will emerge workplace ready and employable. While this may be true for some courses, most employers are looking for more than a qualification. As a student you need to realize that there may be a lot of competition in your industry and you may need to more than stack up Ps and Cs to break into your dream career.

Being trained in your field of interest ticks the first box for many employers, but many recruiters are looking for a set of key qualities that in people they want to hire. Here are some of the most common qualities employers look for and practical ways that you can develop and demonstrate these qualities.

Communication skills

This quality is listed on most jobs ads and is sometimes used interchangeably with the term interpersonal skills. This is because regardless of the role you take in a company you will inevitably have to work with people, be they co-workers, superiors, clients or suppliers. Having good communication skills means more than being able to talk to people. It is also the ability to connect, relate to and interactive with others in a productive and positive way. Any type of customer service work experience while you study is excellent for demonstration strong communication skills.

Work experience in the field

While on the job experience may not be a requirement for many entry-level positions, it can be an invaluable advantage in your job search. Showing that you have taken the initiative to find work experience during your studies demonstrates that you are serious about getting ahead in your industry of choice and also gives you a head start in the role that you will eventually take up. Make an effort to clock up some hours in paid or unpaid internships, casual, part time or holiday work in your field of choice. If you can’t get work experience in the role you want in your industry, consider applying for administration or assistant roles in your industry. Any exposure you get to the industry is better than no experience. If money is an concern, consider saving up for few months so that you can support yourself while you take an unpaid internship.

Ability to self manage

Employers don’t want to have to hold your hand as your navigate your way through your first few months of your new job. What employers will be looking for is someone who can organize their responsibilities without having another paid staff member having to supervise them. You can develop this quality in yourself through your existing part time job and your studies. You further develop this quality by demonstrating commitment to extra curricular activities or membership in societies or groups outside of your studies. Having some complexity or diversity in your life during your studies will show that you are able to focus on a variety of things.

#2 Ability to work in teams

This quality is another a common one as almost all companies have some kind of team dynamic in the work place. Many employers are looking for team players who have a positive attitude and are able to work with others to find solutions and achieve results. You can develop this quality through team sports or volunteer work.

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