Employability ~ Who to employ? 5

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Employability - Word CloudThis week I’ve had the privilege to meet with some fantastic educators from around the region. Some of these conversations were around the topic of employability – what differentiates great from good candidates and what do employers look for in school leavers or graduates?

So below I’ve outlined 10 key attributes that I believe are crucial to GET A CAREER:


It still is hugely important for students to try to get the best grades they can at whatever level of education they have completed prior to them making the decision to enter the employment market. This is especially important if you wish to gain employment in competitive industries. Many employers use range and type of subjects, level of qualification and grades as the first filter for candidate selection – I’m not saying this is right or wrong…it’s just fact. Good grades in Maths and English (in the UK) are a must.


Work Experience is undoubtedly one of the best ways to develop employability skills as well as giving you an idea of whether you wish to go into a particular career area after school, college or university. Many Universities offer internships as part of their offering (Example: The University of Hull ), or work placements as part of their courses. Many schools through Education and Business Partnerships are developing links with businesses across the country to help forge links with businesses for work placements or mentoring. Many private sector businesses get involved in apprentice schemes to give young potential employees some paid experience and many leading to permanent positions. Volunteering – Wherever you are in the world, there are always opportunities to volunteer your skills to gain wider experience or strengthen your skills.

Team player

Being able to show that you can work collaboratively with others from a wide range of backgrounds is a key requirement in most occupations and is very important when applying for a job. Employers see the ability to work as part of a team as a crucial skill, and you need to be able to demonstrate convincingly that you have sufficient understanding and experience of team working. Whilst you’re in education – get involved in teams / groups – you’d be amazed at how this helps in building your confidence in team work – and you won’t even know it, because chances are you’ll be having fun doing it.


A ‘can do’ approach with a drive to make things happen, a passion to learn and prove that you want to be ‘the best that you can be’,  goes a long way in the early stages of employment. You may have to start at the bottom of an organisation, but with the right attitude you won’t stay at the bottom very long!


Oral / Written: Excellent written and interpersonal communication skills are vital to success in life. Being able to show that you can write concisely and with clarity is a key skill in the initial stage of applying for graduate positions. Likewise being able to converse in a confident and effective manner with others from a wide range of backgrounds is a key requirement in life as well as work and is vital in the initial application process.


Commercial: Employers are looking for the following: Knowledge of business generally – Basic financial awareness – Profit & Loss & Business cases; Ability to form opinions and views on issues; An understanding of the issues facing the industry you wish to work in; Appreciation of business stories and their impact on a wider scale;  and the ability to research a topic, analyse and summarise it and present back your findings and recommendations.


The ability to build relationships quickly is crucial to a successful career. Start to build your network of contacts as early as you can – you never know when you’ll need someone’s help. LinkedIn is a great business networking site that not only helps you build your network, but has job areas, industry groups and companies that you can monitor to help your commercial awareness at the same time.


Do NOT underestimate the power of enthusiasm – It’s infectious. Whilst enthusiasm is an attitude, I’m not cheating in my mnemonic (Get a Career) by having Enthusiasm separately – because it’s important.


The ability to ‘Work Digitally’ has never been more important than today. As a minimum you should have a good understanding of Microsoft Windows and Office products (Outlook, Word, Excel and Powerpoint of the most importance) as well as the ability to carry out desk research via the web. Depending on your career path you will need to be conversant with key applications that are widely used in your chosen field. The use of voice and video conferencing is widely used in business as well as collaboration tools like Microsoft Office Communications Server and SharePoint. If you have an opportunity to use these at home or your School or University…take the opportunity!


A really simple one – Be on time (or early). Deliver on what you say you will deliver. Be open and honest.

I’m sure there are many more skills you can think of – but for me, the above differentiate the great from the good!

Would love to get your views, thoughts and feedback…..