10 Ways to Increase Graduate Employability
Show employers you got what it takes!
A recent study by the ISE (Institute of Student Employers) has found that graduates lack the workplace and technical skills that employers require. What are these and what can you do to show you have them? Or, how can you get them?
We have selected the most talked about Top 10 desired skills as identified by our graduate employer partners. Hopefully our list below does not come as a surprise, but there is a difference between understanding what might be expected and being able to show you can tick the box!
It is worth taking the time to think about how you can show you got what they are looking for with real examples. We have given an example for each.
Speaking professionally is important because it can demonstrate confidence, knowledge and respect. This applies to speaking on the phone, writing emails, creating reports and even on social media. Your personal statement on your CV can be the first impression when on the job hunt, so make sure to take the time to match your skills to the job you are applying for and you proofread it carefully for grammar and spelling. If your only job experience is working in a shop or a pub, you should be able to talk about working with the public: giving great service with a smile or dealing with that awkward customer.
2. Commercial awareness
You may have had limited work experience, but that does not mean you have no commercial awareness. Take the time to research about the organisation to which you are applying. See where they sit in their market sector. Research their company site for information about how they operate and even read their latest Annual Report, if available. You want to show passion about their business, but you also want to show you understand how they operate in relation to the vacancy as well as more widely in the marketplace.
Most employers are keen to hire someone who will ‘fit’ and most jobs require people to work together. As well as work experience, think about group projects you may have done for your degree. Talk about the role you played, the benefits you brought to the group and what you learned from others. Show you enjoyed it and talk about why.
4. Negotiation and persuasion
It is easy to think about negotiation in terms of getting a better price for something, and if you can give an example where you managed to do that – great! What employers will want to see is that you have been able to persuade someone to do something. Perhaps you convinced the pub landlord where you work to try a new brand of beer? Maybe you negotiated an extension on a deadline for university (not because you left it to the last minute though!)?
It can seem difficult to evidence leadership at a young age with limited experience. Try to think outside the box. You may have been captain on a sports team or held a leadership position on a school project.
6. Able to work under pressure
Having been a student, you will undoubtedly have had to work under pressure to study for exams or to meet coursework deadlines. Can you think of an example of how you managed the pressure to successfully meet the deadline while keeping your cool. Did you manage this by great planning? Have you had to manage service on your own at work? What was it like and how did you positively manage it?
This is one of the trickiest to demonstrate, especially if you are nervous about an interview or are naturally a shy person. Confidence can come from experience; the more you do something, the better you get, the more confident you become. That is why practicing for interviews is so important. Another good tip is to do your homework! The more you study and do your research (about a company, a sector, job roles…) the more confident you will be to answer questions and talk about it.
8. IT Skills
Most employers will expect you to have basic computer skills such as using Word, using the internet for research, sending emails… To really make an impression, it is worth taking it a step further and learning a new tech skill. It will help you stand apart. You can find a range of free digital courses from a range of organisations,, such as The Open University, Google and Amazon on the Government’s Skills Toolkit.
9. Decision-making skills
Closely linked with confidence, evidencing decision making skills is very much about showing you can confidently make a decision based as it is making the decision itself. In other words, can you show that you have had to make an important decision (using a work example if you can) and did so based on careful thought, research and seeking the opinions of others to inform the choice you made?
10. Creative problem solving
There are plenty of ways to provide examples where you have come up with a solution to a problem, for instance when you fixed something when you didn’t have the proper tools to hand.
One final tip for nailing an interview is to always remember to smile. It not only shows you as a friendly person, it will make you feel good too. It will naturally change the tone in which you speak and help you shine!