For graduates the job search can often pose a wide range of challenges, but one of the big ones is understanding how best to talk about your strengths, abilities and skills to different types of audiences.
Some may find that the last time you sent off application material was when applying for university and subsequently you may be extremely rusty when it comes to trying to present clear and concise information about your relevant skills and experiences.
Even in a perfect environment, it is easy to feel awkward when talking about the transferable skills you put into action whilst completing studies and research. However, you can become much better by thinking about some of the most important career readiness competencies and using them as the foundation to talk about your skills.
Self-management and improvement
Most employers will not list skills such as self-management in the job description, but it is essential if you are going to flourish in many roles. Whilst it may not be prevalent on applications, it will always come up in an interview – employers love to ask about your greatest mistake, or how you deal with failure, for example.
One of the benefits of university is that it is never a smooth ride, so as a result you will have had to overcome a number of challenges. For example, essays are not always accepted straight away, your research may not have produced a positive result, or your grant applications may not have been successful.
Obviously it is not smart to bring up a list of failures in an interview, but by using these you can add some context to explain how you respond to setbacks, evaluate your own performance and learn from your mistakes.
No one is perfect, and being able to talk positively and confidently about how you have overcome challenges and moved on to achieve something positive can be very appealing to employers.
Communication and listening
One of the key aspects to strong communication and listening skills is being able to adapt your approach to different audiences. A formal setting will require a different standard of language and writing than you use whilst getting a coffee with your colleagues, for example.
Ultimately, the entire way you write and talk about yourself has to be a representation of your communication skills in action. Think about adding key words into your CV that are relevant to the industry, especially if you possess certain skills that were explicitly listed in the application.
The language you use whilst writing your cover letter and CV and during your interview should also reflect that of the employer – spending some time on the company’s website is the perfect place to find the right tone and style to use.
If you are a graduate looking to kick-start your career, have a chat with Discovery Graduates and see how they can help get you started.
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