Let’s talk about skills

Emma Hill, Careers Development Consultant, calls for transferable skills to be at the heart of a reimagined recruitment approach post Covid-19.

In the current climate the skills you have, in particular the transferable skills you have, are going to be more important than ever.

If you do a search online at any time for ‘top skills employers are looking for’ you’ll be able to find a comprehensive list of skills that employers value. The list can fluctuate, but generally the same skills have been coming up over the last few years. Covid-19 has had an impact on this list and now when employers ask for adaptability, creative-thinking and problem-solving they really do mean it!

Some of the top skills employers in 2020 are looking for include emotional intelligence, creativity, curiosity, intuition, flexibility and collaboration.

Look beyond job titles

We know that the class of 2020 are going to find it particularly hard to secure employment and we know that graduates in some sectors will be harder hit than others. So we need to remind students to think outside the box and consider the wider skills they have gained by completing their degree. I’m certain that graduates from any course at Edinburgh Napier University could demonstrate that through their dissertation, group projects, placements and assignments they have developed the much sought-after skills previously mentioned. In their job search, graduates should look beyond job titles, and even job sectors, to find specifically what skills certain roles require. They should feel confident in their ability to match these requirements and be able to demonstrate the transferable nature of the skills they have developed.

Look beyond course titles

Employers are already very switched on when it comes to transferable skills, and the majority of employers understand the value in having an employee with highly developed soft skills and the ability to fit in with their team. However, there are still times when employers could more explicitly state the transferable skills they are looking for. Although employers are happy to state the skills they value when a top 10 list is being compiled, how often do you see these in a job advert? It’s normal for a degree subject and classification, as well as experience, to be the minimum requirements employers place on their opportunity, but could this be cutting out a whole group of potentially ideal candidates who would be able to bring creativity and innovation to an organisation?

Emerging from this Coronavirus crisis is the perfect time to rethink recruitment. Employers have the chance to really focus on what their organisation needs and rewrite job descriptions to reflect that. Students and graduates have time for self-evaluation and space to work out what they can offer to potential employers. If a focus on skills is at the heart of all of this, it will be a valuable step on the road to recovery.

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