9 Essential Skills Employers expect to see in a Graduate Student

Mississauga Board of Trade
Mississauga Board of Trade


July 22, 2015


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MBOT_Rosa_002 By Rosa Lokaisingh

Few students have it – the 9 essential skills that an employer expects to find when hiring a graduate student.

Those who took on leadership roles in their academic institutions, like President or Director of the Student Association, or Councils, or Committees fit right in, and their colleagues wonder how they landed a great first job. Well, it wasn’t easy, as they have been working hard at learning new skills, putting them to good use and helping their colleagues at the same time. These are our next generation leaders!

shutterstock_46846486Students can set themselves apart by showing that they’re prepared to contribute to the growth of the organization. The following skills are what businesses are looking for in order to hire a student; this makes them stand out from their competition and demonstrate that they’re ready to progress in today’s and tomorrow’s world of work.

  1. Effective communication
    • Most people can read and write, but don’t focus enough on listening and articulating
  2. Critical thinking and problem solving
    • Waiting for instructions and directions indicate you are not thinking through the situation and bosses love when you find a solution.
  3. Collaboration and teamwork
    • Not involving others in brainstorming or discussing options shows too much ‘lone wolf’ attitude
  4. Resilience, flexibility and adaptability to change
    • Demonstrate that you can switch roles based on changing priorities
  5. Leadership and contribution
    • Involving in teams show leadership
  6. Research and analysis of information
    • It’s important to think things through before plowing right into the task
  7. Creativity, curiosity, and imagination: innovative thinking and methodology
    • One must have a curious mind, ask questions. Don’t assume you know the answer
  8. Commitment to lifelong learning and skill development
    • Learning from others and taking the initiative to learn something new
  9. Entrepreneurial spirit and initiative
    • Entrepreneurial thinking can improve processes and services

For most people, entry level positions are the stepping stone to career fulfillment and success. Students should leverage these experiences to learn as much as they can and develop their skill sets along the journey. Employers consider what’s in it for them on a long term basis, when hiring, as the competition is very strong.

In our current and future world of work, requirements will depend more on these essential skills. Too often, recruiters tend to focus on the technical skills and fail to help the employer find the candidate with the right set of essential skills.

Businesses need to get into the schools to educate students on the impact in their career future if they fail to develop these skills. It’s a long, hard road, when students can’t seem to find employers that will hire and retain them, and they don’t know why.

Retention becomes easier when all parties become aware of each other’s expectations.

Let’s help educate each other!

Rosa Lokaisingh, is our Business Innovation Connector at  Advantage Mississauga. She can be reached at 905-273-6151 Ext. 390 or
rlokaisingh@mbot.com. Visit www.advantagemississauga.com

About the Author

Mississauga Board of Trade
Mississauga Board of Trade

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