Employability: some short and sharp tips

At a recent careers event which focused on what ‘employability’ actually entails, gradireland gleaned the following key nuggets of information which may help you in the elusive quest to enhance your own ‘employability’, thereby giving you the edge in a competitive jobs market.

Keep this definition in mind: Qualifications + Experience + Skills x Contacts = Employability (Dr Paul Redmond, Director of Student Life, University of Manchester)

Most students are only at University for 1,000 days: You need to start learning, absorbing, connecting and growing from your first day and one of the things students need to know about from their first day is employability. This includes all the important extra-curricular activities that add into your all-round university experience.

By March of their final year, 50% of students have not made an application for a graduate job or for a postgraduate course. Much of this can be traced back to an anxiety about what’s the ‘right’ thing to do. Seeking careers guidance and careers information at an early stage in your undergraduate degree can be a massive advantage as it helps reduce this anxiety and give clarity around your best options.

Emerging trends in the workforce: Nowadays, companies are looking for inter-disciplinary teams “working at the intersections” ie where disciplines and skills interact. For example, a team might include data analysts, marketers, sales and project managers working together on a project launch or supply chain, computer programmers, product design and management consultants working on an app for a retailer.

Graduate recruiters are increasingly using internships for the early identification (and recruitment) of talent; and also students are using them in ‘road-testing’ sectors and/or employers.

Foreign languages are a major ‘trump card’ in the employability race especially in a multi-national, multi-cultural global economy where communication and cultural understanding is king.

The Employer’s view: According to a survey of 500 UK Directors, 64% said that when recruiting, graduates’ employability skills were more important to their firm than the specific occupational, technical or academic skills associated with a degree.

An example:

HSBC recruits 1500 graduates into 70 grad programmes globally each year, for which they receive 100,000 applications. 90% of these have a 2:1 or 2:2, thus meeting their minimum criteria for consideration. So it’s going to take something extra to stand out.

The advice is that a strong academic record is a prerequisite that gets you into the game but to keep playing, you need the employability edge; experiences gained inside and outside of study.

What do you need to show?

  • Communication skills (written, verbal, social).
  • Self-management (especially around learning either formal or informal).
  • Confidence Be a ‘digital native’ at home with all types of technology regardless of the role.

What are the traits that Irish graduates have that make us employable?

  • We are travellers, we are mobile, we are explorers and we are not afraid

  • We are inclusive, empathetic, good listeners and good communicators.

Embrace these traits and enhance your employability.


One Comment on “Employability: some short and sharp tips”

  1. […] or IT skills. “Those who do this will be work-ready when they leave college,” she added. Employability is what it is all about these days after all, and that is one thing that will not change for the […]


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