What are technical employers looking for in graduates?
It’s that time of year when another cohort of graduates enter the technical job market looking for that first step on the career ladder.
If you’re a recent technical graduate you’ll be pleased to learn that skills shortages in construction engineering and technology (the fields we predominately recruit for) mean there’s high demand for candidates. However, finding a graduate job is not as easy, it’s experienced technical candidates that are in shorter supply.
So what can you do to increase your chances of landing that first technical job? Read on to find out:
Graduate skills, this is what technical employers want
Potential employers will have a fair idea of the skills you’ve acquired during your degree. Your results will confirm how competent you are, and your portfolio (if relevant) will help demonstrate your proficiency.
Work placements in industry will also count and will be looked at favourably. If you haven’t secured any during your studies it might be worth doing this now to gain some experience and help you stand out in the job market.
These things are easy for technical employers to see and use as a part of their selection criteria. What is often less obvious on a graduate CV or in the interview room, are the soft skills and transferrable skills that can really make a difference to your chances.
Technical graduate skills that are in high demand
Below are the top skills our technical clients are looking for when recruiting for graduate jobs:
Commercial awareness – do you understand the key factors that makes a company successful, wins business and delivers projects effectively? Do you understand how your chosen career fits in to this big picture?
Interpersonal skills – can you show through your previous experience your ability to work in a team, communicate effectively with colleagues and clients, and how you interact well with other people?
Time management – what situations have you been in that demonstrate your time management skills? Being organised, delivering assignments on time and working to tight deadlines all count.
Confidence – are you confident in your abilities without being arrogant? Are you able to project confidence (even if you’re nervous) and give others confidence in you?
Self-awareness – do you know what your strengths and weaknesses are? Can you demonstrate how you play to your strengths and address any weaknesses?
Decision making skills – do you have examples of decisions you’ve made that have relevance in your chosen field? Is your decision making process effective and successful, taking into account all known factors?
Ability to work under pressure – have you ever had to work under pressure to a tight deadline or in adverse conditions? Have you developed strategies to cope with pressure and deliver results?
Initiative – do you think for yourself and are you willing to step up and take charge if that’s the right thing to do? Can you show how you’ve taken responsibility and been accountable for a project or action?
Leadership – do you have the ability to inspire others and head up a team or lead a project? Are you able to get backing from others and support them in a common goal?
Emotional intelligence – are you able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and empathise with them, even if you don’t agree? Are you able to work constructively with people and form positive relationships?
Creative problem solving – have you got examples you can use which demonstrate an ability to approach a problem from a different perspective using your experience and ingenuity?
Adaptability – are you flexible, able to react positively to change and resilient when things don’t go your way?
It’s not easy to articulate all these soft skills in a CV format but it’s worthwhile jotting down examples that demonstrate these skills so you can tweak your CV accordingly. There are opportunities to include real-life examples in a technical CV when you talk about your achievements. If you have a portfolio any background information on the project and brief can also be optimised to reflect key soft skills.
Simply tweaking the language on your CV to include terms like those listing above, can help. But don’t overstuff your CV and covering letter with ‘buzzwords’, aim for a natural and relevant use of terms denoting these skills.