Soft skills help you get ahead

Soft skills help you get ahead

These days, the employment landscape isn’t set in stone. Growth jobs between now and 2020 may include such roles as virtual reality engineers, classroom avatar managers and drone pilots, according to Eliane Miles, Director of Research at McCrindle Research. By 2030, things could look completely different again.

So while the specialised skills and knowledge you develop during your degree are important, they’re not all you need to consider. It’s the other skills and attributes you bring to the table that’ll give you the flexibility to tackle the challenges that come your way and make you stand out in the crowd.

We’ve spoken to employers across a range of industries – including PwC, Commonwealth Bank, CSIRO and Telstra – about what they look for in graduates. And while we can’t predict the exact roles you’ll be applying for throughout your career, we’ve identified a whole host of personal attributes and skills that will help you succeed in the ever-changing job market.

Personal attributes

Employers are looking for you to show them who you are, beyond a CV, through your human qualities. Here are the qualities employers say shine through in their best employees:

  • Passion: This was the single most repeated attribute mentioned by employers; some even said they’d sacrifice technical ability for someone genuinely enthusiastic about what they do.
  • Resilience: Your ability to recover and learn from setbacks is a major drawcard. It’s also important to be flexible and adjust your goals when things change.
  • Empathy: Employers want you to be able to see things from the perspectives of a wide range of people. Considering the experiences of others when making decisions makes you much more valuable to a team.
  • Curiosity: By being curious to learn and open to change, you may find yourself in a good position to push boundaries and spark innovation.

Cognitive flexibility

Employers want you to bring critical and creative thinking skills to the table. That gives them confidence you’ll be able to deal with the challenges that come your way.

  • Business and digital acumen: Your understanding of business and how it operates (including the impact of new media and technologies) is vital to career success in any industry.
  • Big-picture awareness: This refers to the ability to think beyond the task and see the bigger picture, choosing the right information and tools to make sense of complexity.
  • Innovative thinking: This is the entrepreneurial mindset that allows you to develop creative and user-centred solutions to problems, and critically evaluate opportunities.
  • Results orientation: Employers want you to be proactive, to take ownership and accountability for individual and shared outcomes.

Social Intelligence

Employers need to trust you will work well with their customers and their people. They said ‘fit’ was just as important as technical skills – some said more so.

  • Cultural intelligence: You’ll need to work with others successfully in any cultural context to take advantage of their diverse knowledge and skills.
  • Personal judgement: Making decisions appropriate to the context that are informed, values based and supported by relevant data when needed.
  • Collaboration: Working selflessly in diverse groups to create shared value and success.
  • Communicating & influencing: Using personal presence, high quality listening and questioning to engage others effectively both in conversation and written word.

To put these skills into action, you’ll need to consider your own ‘big picture’. First and foremost, that’s understanding who you are, what you stand for and most importantly, your goals for the future. Secondly, by taking a deliberate and planned approach to your career, the skills you learn now will help you out in the future.

Future proof your career

We’ve used these valuable insights to develop Career Ready Advantage, a personalised program that helps you build the skills and personal attributes employers value most. From day one, you’ll be able to access support from:

  • an app where you can unlock rewards such as internships and mentoring
  • a dedicated Career Ready team you can speak to for advice
  • a new on-campus recruitment agency, Unitemps La Trobe
  • an impressive range of Career Ready activities you can participate in, such as work experiences, masterclasses, boot camps, employer networking and online workshops.

As you study, you’ll build your ‘employability brand’, learn a breadth of capabilities that complement your degree and know how to pitch your story to employers.

At La Trobe, we’re committed to making sure you graduate with both the technical skills and the personal attributes you need to make your career goals a reality. Your future starts now.