What Employers Look For in New Graduates

Students and soon-to-be graduates, have you been developing the skills employers value? In the Asia-Pacific region, which includes Australia, employers have specific expectations when it comes to hiring new graduates. Understanding and developing these skills can boost your employability and prepare you for a successful career.

The Top Skills Employers Value

In the Asia-Pacific region, employers have identified nine key skills they value most in new graduate hires. These skills are ranked in order of importance:

  1. Communication and Teamwork Skills (sharing the number 1 spot)
  2. Ability to Solve Problems
  3. Flexibility
  4. Interpersonal Skills
  5. Resilience
  6. Data Skills
  7. Organisational Skills
  8. Technical Skills

Data: QS Report, What do employers want in today’s graduates? Insights from the 2022 QS Global Employer Survey

Read on as we break down each skill set and give you ideas on how you can develop and improve your abilities in those areas.

1. Communication and Teamwork Skills

Communication and teamwork skills top the list, and are rated equally important by employers. Effective communication is crucial in almost every job role, enabling you to express your ideas clearly and collaborate well with colleagues.

Teamwork skills are equally essential. Most workplaces rely on cooperation to achieve goals. To enhance these skills, participate in group projects, join clubs, or take on leadership roles in student organisations.

2. Problem-Solving Abilities

Employers value the ability to solve problems. This skill demonstrates your ability to think critically and address challenges. Developing problem-solving skills involves participating in activities that call for analytical thinking, such as case studies, simulations, and real-world projects. Look for opportunities to tackle complex issues or projects both inside and outside the classroom.

3. Flexibility

Flexibility is a central trait in the fast-paced and ever-changing job market. Employers look for graduates who can adapt to new situations, learn quickly, and handle multiple tasks well. To build flexibility, try to step out of your comfort zone regularly. Take on diverse roles in part-time jobs, volunteering roles, projects or internships, and be open to learning new skills.

4. Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills, or the ability to interact well with others, are key in any work environment. These skills include empathy, active listening, and the ability to build relationships. You can develop strong interpersonal skills by participating in social activities, volunteering, and working in customer-facing roles. Practice being attentive to others' needs and communicating with respect and understanding.

5. Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and keep moving forward. Employers value resilient graduates who can handle stress and remain positive in challenging situations. To build resilience, focus on maintaining a healthy work-life balance, seek support when needed, and develop coping strategies for managing stress.

6. Data Skills

Data skills are increasingly important across various industries. Employers seek graduates who can analyse data, interpret results, and make data-driven decisions. Enhance your data skills by taking relevant courses, engaging in research projects, and using data analysis tools. Familiarise yourself with software like Excel, Python, or R, which are commonly used in data analysis or get to know the tools and technologies most used in your target industry.

7. Organisational Skills

Organisational skills are critical for managing tasks efficiently and meeting deadlines. Employers appreciate graduates who can prioritise work, manage time effectively, and stay organised. Improve your organisational skills by using planners, setting goals, and breaking tasks into manageable steps. Practice managing multiple responsibilities through internships, part-time jobs, or extracurricular activities.

8. Technical Skills

Technical skills vary depending on your field of study and career aspirations. These skills involve the specific knowledge and abilities required to perform particular tasks or use certain tools and technologies. Stay updated with the latest advancements in your field, and take advantage of workshops, certifications, and hands-on experiences to enhance your technical proficiency.

Addressing the Skills Gaps

The employers surveyed in 2022 highlighted significant skills gaps in graduates. The biggest gaps were found in:

  • Flexibility
  • Communication skills and resilience
  • Problem-solving, interpersonal, and technical skills

How are your skills faring in those areas? Have another look at the skills breakdown above and think about what you can do as of now to improve your abilities and readiness in the skill sets employers value the most. And be sure to work on those areas in which graduates are having the biggest gaps.

If you start consciously improving your work readiness and, in particular, flexibility, communication skills, resilience, problem-solving, interpersonal and technical skills, you’ll give yourself a great advantage and become more likely to attract future employers than your peers who haven’t worked on their skills.

Developing Your Skills

It's never too late to start developing the skills employers value. Set clear intentions and be mindful of what you want to achieve. University life offers numerous opportunities for skill development. While it's important to enjoy your time and make friends, remember that this is also the prime time to seize every opportunity to enhance your employability.

Using University Resources

Universities provide a range of resources to help students develop these essential skills. Attend workshops, join study groups, and participate in internships or work-study programs. Take advantage of career services that offer resume building, mock interviews, and networking events. These resources can provide valuable experience and guidance as you prepare for the job market.

Practical Steps to Improve Your Skills

Here are some practical tips on what you can do to improve your skills as a future or a new graduate.

1. Join clubs and organisations. You’ll get to meet people, have opportunities to practice teamwork, make connections and even take on leadership roles.

2. Volunteering is another way to learn to work with others and to improve your interpersonal skills. Depending on where and in what type of role you volunteer, you can also gain some valuable and transferable real-world experience.

3. Internships and WIL programs are a good way to gain practical experience, immerse yourself in teamwork and collaboration, get chances to learn about problem-solving and develop technical and organisational skills.

4. Many students need to do part-time work, which is another opportunity to build skills. Balancing work and study should improve your time management skills and resilience. Try to make the most of the opportunities your part-time work presents you with, even if it’s not in your industry or relevant to your degree. Many of the skills you gain through your part-time work can be useful and transferable towards your future career.

5. Enrolling in online courses can help you build data skills and technical knowledge.

Conclusion

Preparing for the working world after graduation requires intentional effort to develop the skills that employers value. By focusing on communication, teamwork, problem-solving, flexibility, interpersonal skills, resilience, data skills, organisational skills, and technical skills, you can enhance your employability and set yourself up for a successful career. Make the most of your university experience and take proactive steps to build these essential skills. Your future self will thank you.