Employability ~ Who to employ?

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:

Grades – 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.

Experience – 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 the Education and Business Partnership 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 (Case Study: KC). 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.

Attitude – 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!

Communication – 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.

Awareness – 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.

Relationships – 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. 

Enthusiasm – 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.

‘E’-Skills – 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! 

Reliable – 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…..


About Mark Conway
A highly motivated executive with 18 years business experience in fixed / mobile telecommunications and IT Services. A strong record of delivering sales and large-scale change programmes, improving customer experience and with a proven ability to build, lead & manage high quality teams; offering strong relationship building, commercial & decision making skills, gained working in technology and telecommunications for KC, KCOM & O2 in the UK, and with BT Wholesale, IBM, Accenture, Microsoft, Deloitte, SAP and Cisco in partnership. My Blogs: Think Oak! - http://www.oakconsult.co.uk/blog Life Spirit - http://www.lifespirit.biz

5 Responses to Employability ~ Who to employ?

  1. Richard Gate says:

    Sorry Mark but…..
    Isn’t that all a bit obvious? This is just the way its been done for ever. While it’s valuable to write it down in a list, where are the less obvious factors that move the world of business on in new directions. People developed in the light of these traditional factors end up as the rather self-important accounts types that run the world these days. Who have served us rather badly in recent years, particularly those in the financial sector. It seems to me that a lot of the people who make a real difference wouldn’t even have been given a job in the first place if they had been evaluated against this list.
    But all teh best anyway, Richard

    • Richard Gate says:

      PS – Please don’t ask me for my list, I don’t think one can actually be constructed!

    • Mark Conway says:

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for the post. Obvious yes … to people in business. Not so obvious to some students, teachers and academics. Judging by the number of CV’s that come across my desk and interviews I’ve done in my career, school leavers and graduates have not thought about some of these skills at all, never mind done something to demonstrate them in practice.

      The other points you raise are really interesting – who will be the game changers of the future and what skills and aptitudes will be required to be the best? I feel another blog on this topic! If you have some thoughts or would like to do a guest blog, please drop me a line.


  2. Paul Nickerson says:

    Mark – Great post.
    I’m bound to want to up ‘E’-Skills to the top. In so many organisations this is still seen as a separate department, compartmentalised rather than something that pervades all departments. ‘E’-Skills for me amounts to ‘selling’ online, ‘servicing’ online and ‘developing products’ and ‘propositions’ that are fit for the environment that is now online…so already that’s four departments in most organisations that should be steeped in ‘E’-Skills : sales, customer services, product management and marketing. I think the most successful businesses are starting to realise that although you can never kill the telephone, or the face to face encounter, the online world is no longer a tier on top of what we do, it is what we do. Everything else should be seen through the online prism. That recognition, experience and understanding is what I would be looking for in a recruit to almost any post.

    • Mark Conway says:

      Thanks for the post Paul. Couldn’t agree more. Have just finished reading Inbound Marketing (http://amzn.to/gNs2z8) by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah that has a whole section around recruitment of the next generation marketeer/employee. Really interesting thinking around utilisation of everyone’s networks in an organisation and the questions we as managers and leaders should be asking at interview. Made me think!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: