The hard work of completing your degree is coming to an end. You may be feeling a mix of pride and relief. The summer beckons and new adventures in your life are about to begin. At some point, you will make a decision about the next step. For some, it’s a holiday and basking in your new title: Graduate. For others, it’s getting on with finding a job and exploring career options more intensely than ever before. How confident and competent are you feeling about your employability as a new graduate? Where might your attention focus to develop your employability at this stage?
The words employment and employability are often used in the same breath without distinction. Yet, one is part of the other. To clarify, employment is about getting a specific job. Whereas employability is lifelong learning to stay employable. That means you have what it takes now AND what it takes to adapt to changing circumstances. It’s having the knowledge, skills, behaviours, attributes and mindsets or attitudes to be successful in employment and life.
What employers seek
There are a set of generic mindsets and soft skills that you can develop to ensure you are employable now and throughout your working life. We may not know what jobs will exist in 3, 5 or 10 years’ time. However, these capabilities are transferable and will help you succeed whatever the job landscape. They can be grouped into broad categories such as:
- Self-awareness about what makes you tick – so you know your unique advantages and can put your value as a new graduate across to employers (and then deploy them in the job)
- Managing yourself – so you put your best self across to employers (and be at your best more often at work)
- Awareness of how other people tick – so you can adapt and tap into their unique advantages (in the job hunt and at work)
- Ensuring effective relationships – so you find common ground, build mutual respect, and enhance your likeability (in the job hunt and at work)
Your Employability Dashboard
So, how do you know how well you’re doing against the capabilities employers seek?
Just like a car, a dashboard helps you to navigate. What speed are you doing? Do you need to slow down or speed up? Is it time for a check-up for smoother running? What do you do when a warning light flashes amber or red? Obviously, the dashboard won’t do the driving for you (although driverless cars are on their way, lol), but it will help you stay on track in pursuit of your goals.
I’ve created an employability dashboard for you to assess your confidence and competence as a new graduate against 12 common capabilities most employers want. Each has a set of mindsets, soft skills, and behaviours. You can draw upon three main sources of evidence for your capabilities as you graduate:
- Education experience – course activities, projects, extra-curricular activities like societies and clubs.
- Work experience – term-time and holiday jobs, placements, internships, volunteering etc.
- Personal experience – interests like sports, writing, gaming etc; achievements like running a marathon, music grades, winning an award or reaching a fundraising target; travel and exploring other cultures abroad.
Sign up for my FREE bite-size online course above and download your Employability Dashboard template. Completing it gives you a snapshot of where you are now as a new graduate transitioning to a young professional. You will have a baseline to chart your progress. Just by knowing your strengths and development priorities gives you focus and a starting point.
What soft skills, mindsets, and behaviours do you want to develop further?
David Shindler is founder of the Employability Hub online learning centre, Director of Learning to Leap and widely respected in the industry as an employability expert. David understands the ‘soft’ skills, attitudes and behaviours needed by employers and can help people improve them to get the job they want.