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Soft Skills Employers are Looking for in a Graduate

The graduate job market is becoming increasingly competitive, and simply having a degree is no longer enough to make you stand out from the crowd. Instead, employers are looking for a candidate with transferable soft skills that will enable you to adapt quickly to working life and slot into a team.

The graduate job market is becoming increasingly competitive, and simply having a degree is no longer enough to make you stand out from the crowd. Instead, employers are looking for a candidate with transferable soft skills that will enable you to adapt quickly to working life and slot into a team.

Recently, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) surveyed more than 1,000 managers and approximately 800 students to form a report called 21st Century Leaders. The report outlined the key qualities that employers are looking for in a graduate.

The top five professional abilities employers want are:

  • Taking responsibility (identified by 60%)
  • People management skills (55%)
  • Honesty and ethics (55%)
  • Problem solving and critical analysis (52%)
  • Collaboration and team-working (48%)

So, how can you ensure that you demonstrate these skills to a future employer?

Work experience:

85% of employers want students to have work experience. Of the students surveyed who have done a placement or internship, a large majority (79%) say it has improved their employability. Work experience placements not only introduce you to the world of work, but give you a chance to learn the dos and don’ts of working life and an idea of the skills you will need to thrive in the workplace. Placements also give you the opportunity to prove to a prospective employer in an interview or on your CV that you have familiarity with skills such as team-working and problem solving.

Professional log:

Although work experience placements are a great way to showcase your skills, employers recognise that they can be hard to secure. Don’t fret! There are opportunities to showcase the skills that you have acquired through additional activities like part-time work, voluntary positions and community projects.  You may not think that helping out at a sports club or working in a supermarket translates to a corporate role, however they provide great opportunities for you to demonstrate your team working abilities and ethical mindset.

Creating a log of your experiences will allow you to take a step back and assess when you have demonstrated the key skills employers look for. This is also a really good habit to get yourself into, as it is essential to keep a record of your professional development throughout your career to track and evidence your progression and achievement.

Jo Lozinksa, Employability Manager at The University of Law Business School says: ‘At the University of Law Business School we understand the importance of developing soft skills. We do this in a number of ways. Students get the opportunity to engage and network with a range of employers, big and small. Our career insights programme gives students the chance to learn about different career areas and our #businesstalks programme introduces students to entrepreneurship and self-employment, with speakers from all walks of life inspiring students with their career journeys.  Employers and professional bodies also come into the classroom to deliver mock assessment sessions and business games which help students develop communication, team building and analytical skills. Within the curriculum, a dedicated careers professional delivers a range of employability skills workshops covering those all important areas of commercial awareness, CVs as well as cover letter writing and personal branding together with individual help and guidance. For us at The ULaw Business School employability is all about raising aspirations, broadening horizons and building confidence so that all our students realise their potential as they embark on their own career journeys.’

For more information visit managers.org.uk/21CLeaders or follow @cmi_managers #21cenleaders

For more information on our business programmes and how you can achieve the highly coveted Chartered Manager (CMgr) status alongside your degree visit www.law.ac.uk/business