Congratulations on completing your hard-earned degree after four years of sweat, often mixed with many tears! Guess what, your journey of learning isn’t over: you will still need more skills ti fund and keep a job. This might come as a shock to you, but the world of employment has changed over the last decade, writes Southern Africa Ambassador Gaongalelwe Mosweu. Anyone who breaks into the world of employment needs to realise that one needs to remain adaptable to any changes, particularly from a skills point of view. The practical skills you got at university or college aren't enough.
Besides their degrees, grades, and specialisations what differentiates the one graduate from the next? The answer lies in what is known as soft skills, which are as important as the hard, practical skills you got whilst studying. These skills characterise a person's relationships with others and enhance your employability chances. Some of the key soft skills employers are looking for are teamwork, communication, problem-solving capabilities, leadership skills, and being able to work under pressure.
1. Teamwork: Being able to work in teams is one of the primary skills that potential employers look for in a graduate. Teamwork is about collaboration, influencing, and compromising whilst being able to work with people from different backgrounds and understanding your part in the bigger picture. Being part of a team makes your ability to encourage and inspire your fellow team members to perform better essential as is the ability to compromise and meet others halfway.
2. Communication: This is a key skill in the workplace and revolves around being able to express yourself clearly - verbally, non-verbally, and in writing. Whether you are a good communicator also depends on whether you can listen to the views of others. As Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace, says: “No working day is complete without writing an email or tackling a new challenge, so the sooner you develop these skills, the more employable you become.”
3. Problem-solving: Often, graduates, in their lack of experience, see problems earlier than opportunities. Contrary to what you might believe, problem-solving is a vital skill. It is about being able to take a logical and analytical approach to an issue or challenge and being able to see things from different perspectives.
4. Leadership skills: You may think you are “just a graduate” and that leadership is therefore irrelevant. It is advisable to show your potential in becoming a leader. Good leaders motivate their teammates, take initiative, have integrity, and build people up. These are things you need to show to prove to your employer you are worth a dime.
5. Being able to work effectively under pressure: Your university assignments that might have been completed last minute at times, gave you some good practice in meeting your deadlines. To keep your job, you will need to keep a levelled head, stay calm, and keep working even when pressure is unbearable – without breaking down. It is important you keep your stress levels under control, at all times.
While this list of essential soft skills is much longer than this, these five tips will help you when looking for and keeping a job. Employers need to know that you are worth investing in and that you are someone who can help them reach their desired bottom line. Good luck!
About the Gaongalelwe Mosweu from Botswana is Afrinection's southern Africa Ambassador. She is an experienced writer and marketing specialist, and she loves helping African youth meet their full potential.