3 capabilities employers want you to have

20 February 2017


Not sure which key skills employers are looking for when hiring graduates? It can be hard to know what’s most important, but here are three key capabilities employers say are essential in almost any kind of work.  

1. Critical thinking/problem solving

Critical thinking involves analysing and evaluating information and arguments, understanding the connection between ideas, and reaching logical conclusions.

Employers need you to be able to apply critical thinking to solve problems in the workplace – from simple day-to-day issues to more unusual and complex ones.

In an interview for a graduate role, an employer won’t expect you to provide a complex example of critical thinking or problem solving, but you should be able to give a simple example from a previous job, extra-curricular activity, or university project.

2. Communication

You’ve probably seen that most job advertisements list strong communication skills as a requirement, so you’ll need to be able to demonstrate how you’ve communicated well in a variety of situations when you apply for a role and when you get an interview.

So what are some aspects of communication you should focus on?

  • How to listen, process and interpret information, and follow instructions.
  • Assessing the most appropriate method and style of communication for any given situation.
  • Communicating effectively in difficult situations.
  • Understanding terms that are specific to the role and industry you are applying for.
  • Presenting and speaking to, or as part of, a group.
  • Preparing clear and well-structured written communication such as emails, letters, and reports tailored for a specific purpose and audience.

You can develop these skills in your classes, and by being involved in a variety of activities outside of your study, such as part-time work or volunteering, clubs, interest groups and hobbies. Take note of examples from these activities that you can use to illustrate your communication skills.

3. Learning agility

Employers know you won't have all the knowledge required for a job from day one - but if you show strong learning agility, they will trust that you can learn as you go. This can be just as important as what you study at university.

A ‘lifelong learner’ is someone who voluntarily seeks new knowledge throughout life. Whether it’s for personal or professional development, any further learning will not only improve you as a person, but as an employee. If you’re willing to complete extra training courses, learn about a different function in the organisation, or read widely on work-related topics, you will not only add value to your organisation, but also create new opportunities for yourself.

As a graduate, you can demonstrate your learning agility if you’ve extended yourself in a challenging university course, developed yourself in different areas at work (even in part-time jobs), or if you’ve taught yourself something in your spare time, such as a language or technical skill. 

Next steps

Remember, if you feel your capabilities in these areas need developing, you can always develop and improve them! Look for opportunities to work on them by getting involved in some of the activities mentioned. You can also attend CDES workshops - just login to MyCDES to see our workshop schedule and make a booking. We're here to help!