Be on top of the basics: essential skills and competencies

There’s a few skills that, if you can show employers you’ve mastered, will put you in good stead! Writing, reading, numeracy, presentation, organisation and the ability to work under pressure are the essential ones!

These are the general competencies that are essential for successful working. Don’t overlook the importance that employers place on these basics, they will look for evidence of them throughout the application process!



Myth = long and complex words make you seem smarter. True = misusing long and complex words is bad for applications. Tip = avoid long and complex words.

You should show graduate employers that you can write clearly and succinctly during the application process. Check, double check and check again for any spelling or grammar mistakes.



You should have acquired the basic numeracy skills over the course of your educational life. That being said, if the last time you attempted anything more complicated than splitting a bill was GCSE Maths, you may need to brush up on your skills a bit!



Reading and understanding. For example, reading a set of instructions and carrying them out, this tests your comprehension and analytical skills.



Coming arm in arm with communication - presentation is the ability to visually and/or verbally present information to an audience in a manner that is comprehended by all. There are often opportunities during your degree to practice this - use practice time wisely as the next time could be in front of a potential employer!



Time management is an example of organisation, as is sorting information or objects so they are easily found when needed. Juggling any part-time work/ extracurricular activities and studies can give you examples of organisational skills for applications and interviews.



Being resilient is a big thumbs up for employers, the ability to overcome setbacks is invaluable and will keep you going during your job hunt. Many graduates tend to feel very fatigued at some point or another whilst looking for jobs - keep at it! Whilst you may not be getting interviews from your applications, if you don’t apply you never will! The more effort you apply to your applications the more you’ll get out and the more likely they’ll be successful.. Duh!


Ability to work under pressure

Keep calm, don’t panic, don’t become too overwhelmed or stressed! So, as it is virtually impossible to have finished your education without having taken any exams, this is a good place to start demonstrating you’ve worked under pressure and kept your cool before! Sporting performances can also be good examples for this, as are plays, and performing in front of audiences!



Finding a balance of confident but not arrogant is important. You should be self-assured but not to the extreme, and not when you are wrong! Whilst you will feel nervous in your job interview, you should try to engage fully with the employers and remain upbeat. By doing this you can convey confidence!

Employers are looking for people with a get-up-and-go attitude. Working life can present challenges all along the way, and you want to show that you’re the type of person that will stay cheerful-ish (at least!) when the going gets tough!

Make sure you do your research before applying for jobs, both of the employers and skills the position requires so that you’re well practiced and prepared when you need to be!


skillsMaarten Karremans