This year more than ever graduates will need to rely on their soft skills to stand out to employers.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been quite a year so far.
With a global pandemic going on, we know it's been a challenge for students and graduates to access work experience. Placements were cancelled or delayed, lots of graduate recruitment plans were put on-hold and part-time work was even more competitive to secure than usual. In some cases, even volunteering wasn't an option because of social distancing measures.
Without being able to add experience like this to your CV, how are are you meant to stand out to employers who often place a high priority on your previous experience?
Two words: soft skills.
Soft skills have always been important to employers; they provide insight into how well you will work with others, follow direction, handle stress, liaise with clients, fit in with the rest of a team and more. The best thing about soft skills is you don't need to have had previous work experience to have gained them; you will naturally possess certain soft skills, while others are developed during social situations and through life experience.
In a post-COVID world, soft skills are going to be even more crucial. Employers know you won't have been able to access the same kind of experience opportunities as usual, so your soft skills can act as a compromise on your CV, showing that, while you might not have on-the-job experience, you have the attributes and behaviours that the employer is looking for.
Which soft skills are employers looking for right now?
We recently ran small straw poll of employers to find out which three soft skills they would value the most in graduates at the moment. Out of all the soft skills they could have chosen, it was good communication, problem solving and positivity that were deemed the most valuable.
With lots of companies moving towards a more flexible and remote way of working, whether temporarily or as a more permanent response to the pandemic, it makes sense that good communication is of the utmost importance.
Within your job applications or interviews, you need to ensure you are providing evidence that you can communicate effectively. You could talk about a group project you led at university or give an example of a particularly successful way you communicated with colleagues in a previous role - whatever you talk about, the employer needs to see that they can trust you to communicate well with them whether you're in the same office or a million miles away via Zoom.
Just recently, businesses have been faced with many unexpected challenges to they way they function, and with the coronavirus not going anywhere soon, they need to be prepared to face plenty more in the near future.
In order to do this, employers will look for fresh talent that is not only suitable for the role at hand, but will also be able to weather a storm or two. Show them how you've dealt with problems in the past and explain what you've learnt from each experience. Proving that you can turn a problem on its head and deliver a successful outcome will make you stand out from the crowd more than ever.
It's no surprise that in 2020 positivity is right up there with the most desirable soft skills for employers. If you can make it through this year with a positive outlook still in-tact then you're winning.
Employers want to recruit people who can not only bring the right skills to the role, but also the right attitude. Can you bolster the mood of your team? Can you inspire yourself even when you're working from a desk in your bedroom? Can you see the positives in amongst a difficult situation? If you're the type of person who can do all of those things, make sure you're demonstrating this to employers; it will take you far.
You can find more advice on soft skills and how to use them to help get you a job here.
Looking for a student or graduate job? Check out the opportunities available on the GradTouch website here.