By Dr Eugene Brink
Getting a degree is one thing. Flourishing in a job – especially your first one – is quite something else.
Apart from the “hard” skills you’ll need to do your work, some “softer” ones are more than applicable. Technical expertise, or hard skills, ranks a lowly number seven on a list of top skills and qualities hiring managers want from new graduates, according to the 2015 Job Outlook survey conducted by the National Association for Colleges and Employers.
“But no matter what kind of position or employer you’re looking for, there are a handful of skills that can boost your application almost anywhere,” says career expert Emily Moore.
The good news is that with enough willpower and prowess most of these skills can be developed.
Experts agree that this is one of the most valuable and sought-after skills for young employees – in fact, all workers must be able to do it proficiently. “By far the most common skill mentioned by the human resource and career experts we reached out to was the ability to communicate,” says Moore.
This means being clear when talking and writing so that others know what you mean and what you aim to achieve.
Michele Mavi, resident career expert at Atrium Staffing, says both verbal and non-verbal communication affects every aspect of your professional life. “From how your ideas are viewed to your relationship with coworkers, communication skills are essential.”
“The best way to achieve these skills is to gain awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses, ask for feedback, observe and listen to those who have an exemplary rapport with others, and practise skill development in all relationships,” says Katherine Daniel, Director of Human Resources and marketing for N2 Publishing Inc.
If you can master working with others, you’re well on your way to being a valuable worker and asset to your organisation. This means you can realise shared goals.
“These skills are best learned by watching and learning from role models,” says Laura MacLeod from The Inside Out Project. “Think about people you know who do this well and watch how they navigate relationships and group dynamics. Work on improving current relationships, being more collaborative in your group of friends or family, meeting people and forming new groups and relationships.”
From the start, you will be faced with innumerable problems that need fixing and to which there aren’t necessarily ready-made solutions. Skyller Jordan, a hiring manager at best practice insight and technology company CEB, elucidates this concept a little further. “(It means) being able to look at the larger goal, understanding the levers to pull to get there (and historical patterns that have led to success), and prioritising the most effective means to get the job done.”
- Organising and learning quickly
It is inexpressibly vital for you to show that you’re on top of things and progressively responsible.
“In the workplace, organisation is an absolute must. Things like frequently updating and prioritising your to-do list, organising your inbox, keeping track of important documents, and project management are all essential for workplace success – so if you need to hone these skills, the time to start is now,” says Moore.
Being able to learn quickly and doing more means you possess initiative and enterprise and that you can manage yourself without much supervision. This builds trust, an invaluable boon for any company. So, set yourself some realistic goals, execute and build on that foundation.
- Analysing and processing information
In this era, there is an overabundance of information. The trick is being able to winnow, analyse and process it in order to use it for business purposes. Being able to distinguish between useful and irrelevant information and knowing how to apply information for different purposes, are core skills in the information age.
Emily Moore, 23 November 2018, “14 must-have skills for entry-level workers”, https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/must-have-entry-level-worker-skills/.
Lily Zhang, 2019, “5 skills you must show off to land your first job (and every one after that)”, https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-skills-you-must-show-off-to-land-your-first-job-and-every-one-after-that.
Youth Central, 2020, “8 job skills you should have”, https://www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/jobs-and-careers/plan-your-career/8-job-skills-you-should-have.