Critical skills needed for entry-level job seekers


As graduation day approaches, most graduates are already looking for a job. Once they get the certificate the job search intensifies with vigor, excitement, and high expectation only to find themselves sitting at home for months or even years still looking for their first job. With millions of people graduating from various universities, and in the various academic field, it becomes difficult to stand out from this pool of fresh, intelligent graduates. To add insult to injury is the frustrating realization that most employers seem to be looking for candidates with some sort of experience that you lack.

So, what are employers looking for in fresh graduates? In order to stand out from the crowd of jobseekers some with excellent academic records and better qualifications than you, have some soft skills on top of your qualification. These are personal attributes that allow you to interact with others and effectively contribute to the growth of a business. Soft skills help highlight your value to an organization where experience lacks. Below is a list of  critical  skills that employers are looking for in entry position candidates;

  1. Social Skills: also called interpersonal skills are well demonstrated by an individual’s ability to interact and communicate with others. In a workplace setting, you will interact with colleagues, employer, or clients and  your social skills will be well demonstrated by how you:
  • Communicate: Both verbally and written. Are you able to express yourself in a way that others understand? As early as the job search stage, You should be able to articulate your thoughts, state your needs and wants, and ask questions. Written communication is important and always comes to play when writing reports, emails, presentations, or letters. Ensure your spelling, grammar, font, and format is appropriate and depicts professionalism. Also, pay attention to non-verbal communication as it helps foster relationships.  Consider your gestures, body language, and eye contact.
  • Listening: Before talking and writing you should first listen. A fresh graduate’s ability to listen actively determines how well they will perform in their roles, the type of professional relationship they will build, the type of team member they’ll be, and how they will resolve issues.
  • Emotional Intelligence: It entails an individual ability to understand and manage their emotions as well as others. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who are in touch with their actions, emotions, and surroundings. Individuals who have self-control can make calculated decisions without influence and who are empathetic as well as self-motivated. Such individuals are able to provide recruiters a glimpse of their inner workings, making it easy to place them in the right roles.

2. Coachability & Versatility: At entry-level, you are coming in with book knowledge, and it’s now time to gain knowledge through experience. Hiring managers want to settle on a candidate who Is hungry and eager to learn through experience. One who is ready to pick up new skills, experience, strategy, and also learn from mistakes. This trait comes from a mindset of being ready to adapt and open to any work that gets thrown your way. 

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3. Organizational Skills: This is how well you are able to arrange your thoughts, time, and tasks in order to achieve set goals. Hiring managers will always go for candidates who showcase their ability to meet deadlines, multitask, and are consistent in quality output. Excellent time management skills, proper planning, and physical organization are indicators of good organizational skills. In order to perfect your organizational skills, have a to-do list, maintain a schedule, and have a deadline calendar to keep track of tasks that need your attention and the amount of time need.

4. The right attitude: The right attitude always leaves a good impression on any employer.  Nine times out of ten employers are looking for a candidate with the right attitude that will fit into the company culture. A positive attitude shows you are pleasant to work with and colleagues will be happy to work with you as you will imbibe the positive energy on them. Such an attitude is known to offer more to a company in terms of productivity hence contributing to the success of a company. Some top positive attitudes that employers look for include; proactiveness, collaborative spirit, problem-solving, integrity, self-motivation, reliability among many others. Some of the ways hiring managers test job seekers attitude in the hiring process are by looking at how they act over the phone, how they respond to emails, ask the receptionist about an individuals behavior before and after the interview, ask about a past incident, and inquire how the job seeker reacted.

5. Research and analytical skills: Job seekers who are well versed in research and have the ability to assess, articulate, visualize, conceptualize and solve existing problems in a company are what hiring managers are looking for. Logic reasoning, commonly referred to as critical thinking shows prospective employers that you are able to provide creative solutions to existing or new problems that will help businesses innovate and remain competitive. Good research and analytical skills give you the power to make a big and positive contribution to any company. Some of the ways you can improve your analytical skills are by; play brain games such as chess and puzzles, read actively imagining different outcomes of the storyline, being observant to process how things work, and learning new things to boost your cognitive abilities.

How you showcase these skills in the job search process is important. First, read and understand the job description and focus on the required skill. Then, try as much as possible to incorporate your relevant skills into your CV and cover letter as keywords. This will help you get noticed and increase your chances of landing an interview. Be sure to include examples of a time or two where you demonstrated the above skills.

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