Top 10 skills fresh graduates must have for getting a job

Do you have the basic skills that recruiters look for during campus placement drives? The right employability skills can turn the tide in your favour and land you a job. What are the employability skills that every graduate student should learn that can get them a job?

As a soft skill coach, I have worked with college students and fresh graduates. It gave me the opportunity to interact and observe groups of young and dynamic men and women. These were highly skilled people, academically sound, but they lacked basic skills that employers look for.

It is unfortunate that most colleges and universities do little or nothing when it comes to imparting skills that matter. Academics remain the sole focus. Only a few enterprising students show interest in extra-curricular activities that allow them to hone skills that come handy when they face the real world. Others are left to fend for themselves.

Companies, no doubt, look to recruit academically proficient graduates, but they also look for certain skills in the people they want to employ. A brilliant academic record might get a few candidates a job, but the rest have to compete with each other to fill the vacancies. Employers look for key skills in aspirants, and if you possess those skills you improve your chances of getting hired.

This article is a brief synopsis of the 10 most desired skills that attract employers. This will be followed by a series of articles discussing each skill in detail.

What do employers look for in fresh graduates

Recruiting teams visiting university campuses don't come looking for just the academically brilliant. They want to tap the right talent – individuals with the right skills and aptitudes. Different professions and job sectors require a different set of knowledge, skills and aptitude. However, there are certain skills that are common to all professions, and in fact, complement most industry related skills. I will term these as 'basic employability skills'. These fundamental skills can be put to use throughout your career, and when effectively used can set you apart from the others.

Such skills are also referred to as 'transferable skills', you continue to get better at them and take them along as you progress in life. You never stop using them, and in time become a master of the art.

Top skills that recruiters want in fresh graduate candidates

Communication skills

Most people think that good communication requires a good command over a language. That is but partially correct. Communication in common parlance covers written as well as verbal statements that we use to get our points across. There is another aspect to good communication and that involves listening. Only if we listen can we communicate.

Good communication demands clear, crisp and focused thoughts, put into words. It is also about adapting ourselves and our communication to suit the audience. It is about a clever ploy of words to get the attention. Communication can be an icebreaker.

Recommended Reading : How to answer the interview question - What is your biggest weakness?

Teamwork skills

Teamwork is crucial and recruiters look for candidates who display potential of being good team players. Not just that, they also look for qualities that show candidates as having the ability to take on responsibilities and also being able to delegate to others.

Teamwork comprises of structuring positive associations on the job and working as one, without egos and one-upmanship. It is about taking everyone along with you to accomplish targets and business objectives.

Organisational skills

Working is about prioritising stuff, meeting deadlines, being efficient, staying focused and being productive. You have to do all these in tandem. There can be no hold-ups and delays. And any experience that highlights these skills can work to your advantage.

An ability to work and deliver under pressure

How well can you manage pressure? Can you keep your calm under crisis? Can you think straight and draft a workable plan when things are going astray? Do you panic and become easily stressed?

Work brings with it unknown pressures. Recruiters will want to know how well you can deal with unexpected situations and how well you can think on your feet.

Confidence level

A confident candidate is always preferred over someone who is unsure of themselves. Confidence shows in the way you conduct yourself – your body language and your responses. Confidence is different from being smug and conceited. Confidence should reflect a belief in oneself and in one's abilities.

Confidence is also the faith in co-workers – and this is where teamwork comes in.

Problem solving abilities

Logical thinking, reasoning and an analytical approach to problem-solving and resolving issues are skills that recruiters want. These assets are not easily displayed. You will need to demonstrate these skills through the clever use of words, during interviews. Another smart move is to impress upon the interviewers that you have the knack of approaching problems from different perspectives.

Leadership qualities

You may not lead immediately, but over the course of employment, you will get opportunities to lead team members. Companies wanting to employ you will look for the managerial quality in you. Do you reflect a potential of being a good manager? Do you have it in you to act as a motivator? Have you got the leadership quality to allocate tasks, set deadlines and motivate your team by leading by example?

Negotiation & persuasion

Business dealings entail meeting with other people, understanding them and what they want. It also necessitates negotiation and persuasion skills, to get what you want. It is about creating positive vibes even when there are disagreements and about winning, instead of losing. You will need to show persuasive characteristics.

Motivation & Perseverance

Working life is full of challenges and you will have to exhibit a get-up-and-go attitude. What you say should demonstrate your enthusiasm, energy, drive and ambition. You should come across as someone who has the ability to walk through a maze and come out unfazed. Your optimism should be palpable.

Business acumen

No one is going to employ someone who knows nothing about the industry. Sharpen your business and academic skills, so you can answer relevant technical questions. You should have some knowledge of the industry that you hope to work in. You'll need to your homework before the interview.

Recommended Reading : How to answer typical job interview questions

Catchphrases & words of action

Words are a powerful tool and you must learn to use them to your advantage. Insert the right words and catchphrases in your curriculum vitae and during the interview and you will influence the recruiters with your ability. However, you'll need to sound natural and not rehearsed.

Effective catchphrases to use when describing yourself -
  • Dynamic
  • Initiative
  • Creative
  • Proactive
  • Self-motivated
  • Committed
  • Team player

Words of action (verbs) that you can use to describe your achievements-
  • Accomplished
  • Determined
  • Completed
  • Reported
  • Coordinated
  • Supported
  • Delegated
  • Presented
  • Delivered
  • Organised
  • Identified
  • Led

7 tips for developing the right skills that recruiters look for

The skills mentioned above are not learned in one day, they must be part of your everyday life and honed as you progress. The most effective method of enhancing your skillsets is by making the most of the opportunities that you have. Here is what you can do –
  • University is not for academics alone. Get involved in extracurricular activities (the more the merrier) as they will help develop general skills
  • Spend vacations doing something constructive. Use these periods to get relevant work experience where you can acquire basic employability skills. Internships are the right training field for honing such skills
  • Maintain a record of activities revolving around your work experience and of the skills that you pick up. These can be used to illustrate points during interviews
  • Network – build contacts (college seniors are the best bet), get in touch with friends and family and acquaintances for opportunities that can add to your work experience. They can also show you new avenues that you wouldn't have heard of. Don't be afraid to explore
  • Join special skill courses or other relevant programmes made available in the university. Attend lectures and seminars, they can be a great learning ground to improve general skills
  • Attend presentations by company's that come to your campus. And of course, take advantage of the placement drives that happen – if nothing else, you'll at least gain experience and get better at handling interviews
  • Always research on the company you are applying for a job. This gives you an insight on not just the company but also lets you recognise the skills and levels of competency expected of you. You can then utilise this knowledge into packaging yourself into what the company needs

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: Rashmi verma22 May 2017 Member Level: Silver   Points : 10

Very true. I totally agree to this after more than 10 years of corporate exposure in varied industry I agree to what you have said. Companies coming to universities and colleges for campus placement are on the look out for skills that can be transformed or enhanced according to their requirement. When they land up in the campus they know that each individual that they come across has the degree but they are on the look out for the spark which is much needed in corporate world. The basic things that they look for are following:

1)Communication skill
The first and foremost requirement in a company is good communicative skills. One needs to interact with different types of people while working. Therefore it is necessary to know how to interact with your superiors, your subordinates, your colleagues and definitely the peon of the office and not to forget the clients who are the king.

2) Team spirit
In office one has to work in a team. It is a group that works together for the benefit of the company. Therefore one should be adjusting and professional too because it is very important to keep the spirit of the team intact and at the same time think about the ideas that are profitable for the company.

3) Problem solving attitude
When we work anywhere definitely there would be problems. A person who is positive and mature knows that every problem with a solution bre it personal or professional. One should always try to figure out the root cause of the problem and then find a solution.

4) Delivery under pressure
This is a very important aspect of any Industry. A person should have the capability to deliver under pressure and within given time frame. In short we can say that the I dividual should be time bound and able to deliver under pressure. Certain industries are so unpredictable that things or projects could come up suddenly and the deadline of delivery could be very short and trust there are people who work best under pressure.

5) Leadership quality
A company wants the best employ who can be multi tasking and a motivator for others. Therefore while hiring they are always on a look out for Individuals who show leadership qualities.

If an individual shows these traits to the hiring team then no matter what the degree or the cgp says there is always a place for him in this big corporate world because the company knows that it can train the individual on work but developing skills is a though task. Although companies do provide training for enhancing skills and for releasing stress.
So guys, pull up your socks and instead of just looking at academically skills develop other skills as well because it is because it them that your personal and professional life would be stable.

Author: K Mohan23 May 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 2

I appreciate the author for giving some nice tips which would surely help those freshers who seek job for the first time in their life. During graduation or B Tech program, there is a chance of doing internship in their core area subject which is basically designed to know the first hand information for the students to taste the job requirements and how they tackle the situation. But often I have seen that the certificates from some companies have been obtained through fraudulent means as if the student actually underwent internship. So by doing so the students are denying the chance of getting noticed and having the first choice of job when they get eligible to do a fresh job. So students should actually work in any company and know the intricacies of job so that when the real job is offered, they can accept the same with confidence and proceed.

Author: Juana23 May 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 7

Wonderful input Rashmi, thanks.

It is a sad fact that our education system is such that students are not trained – all that is pumped into them is academic knowledge. They are unfortunately not ‘made’ ready for the real world. I have come across so many reports that mention that most colleges are churning out unemployable graduates. Colleges and universities do little to enhance professional skills in them.

Students do not realise the importance of extracurricular activities and how good these look on the CV or how well some of these activities can develop/demonstrate competency skills. I always encourage youngsters to take up sports or participate in other extracurricular activities. The trouble is the Indian psyche, which thinks all of this a waste of time.

Much of the skills mentioned in my article are learned through exposure. They are self-taught and can be improved upon through proper skill set training.

The one point that I do not agree with is the one about the CGPA. CGPA matters and companies that participate in campus placements mention a minimum CGPA requirement. Students have to meet that basic requirement to be able to apply/sit for the interview. So, yes grades are essential too.

Author: Juana22 Jun 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 4

Interviewers, even at the campus placements, ask specific questions related to the internship. So, a candidate who manages a letter of completed internship through fraudulent means will not be able to answer the interviewer’s job-related questions.

I agree many engineering candidates go for an internship in core fields, but at the time of placement, very few companies from core companies visit the campus. This has been my experience. A lot of industries employ engineering graduates because of their high analytical abilities. Unless students are really keen on working in the core field and are sure of finding employment, they should opt for internships and projects that broaden their horizons. They should focus on learning skills that make them employable, without limiting them.

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