The four skills you need to land your first job
Applying for your first full-time job can be daunting, so what are the four skills you need to land your first job? It can be easy to feel like your limited experience doesn’t give you much to offer an employer.
The good news is that hiring managers are not necessarily looking for technical expertise when they are hiring graduates. They know you won’t necessarily have had time in between studying and part-time work to build strong technical expertise and experience. They are more likely to be looking for ‘soft’ skills or attributes that demonstrate that you can work well with others, make decisions and achieve goals, and learn quickly and effectively.
Here are the top four skills that hiring managers tell us they want applicants to be able to demonstrate when they are hiring for entry-level jobs.
One of the key skills hiring managers will be looking for is your ability to work in a team with others, and to achieve shared goals by working together.
Team players are reliable; they communicate effectively with others and express ideas in a meaningful and respectful way. They listen to, and understand, different perspectives; give constructive feedback without being defensive; and can be flexible and adaptable based on feedback or ideas from others.
Even without a lot of work experience, you can demonstrate your teamwork skills with examples of team projects you have done during your study; by part-time work as part of the team in a busy restaurant, or volunteer work helping to run a major event.
When a hiring manager asks you about your leadership, they are looking to understand your leadership style and attributes such as initiative, decisiveness and the ability to guide and motivate others.
To describe a situation in which you showed leadership, you could talk about how you came to be in a leading role, the steps you took to keep things running smoothly, and the result – for example, a successful event or completed project.
People who are good at solving problems can demonstrate taking initiative, finding creative or innovate solutions, or thinking outside the square.
Even though you may not have been in many situations where you have had the opportunity to effect change, but it could be as simple as noticing that the café you work at sells more ham sandwiches than chicken sandwiches, so you move the chicken sandwiches to a more prominent position and in doing so, sell more chicken sandwiches (and still the same amount of ham).
Looking at a situation or an old solution, and coming up with a new process or new solution, is one of the ways you can demonstrate your problem-solving ability.
Planning, organisation and working to time constraints
Organisational skills are crucial for most work places. Time management, planning, and completing tasks within deadlines are important to keeping tasks, deliverables and projects under control so that a business operates smoothly.
Hiring managers are looking for these skills because they are the kind of traits that make an employee dependable, and increase productivity and efficiency. Employers often screen candidates for their ability to handle large workloads or stressful, fast-paced environments.
You can demonstrate these skills by talking about how you have been able to prioritise tasks to achieve the desired result in a stressful situation; analysing processes and selecting the most efficient way to complete a project; or by breaking broader goals into smaller parts and focusing on one step at a time.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a lot of technical work experience when you are looking to land your first job. There are many ways you can demonstrate the four keys skills hiring managers are looking for by drawing on your studies, volunteer work or part-time work experience.