I have recently begun a new position as the graduate skills development coordinator at Flinders University. It has been a new challenge for me to get to my head into the space of careers and has involved plenty of reading of government and higher education policy and frameworks. Most of my work day is spent running graduate skills workshops for students and I really enjoy the contact with students. The graduate skills are based on government framework, which was written after consultation with various Australian business and employer groups. The workshops I run are designed to assist students to think about developing their employability skills including; time management, project management, working in teams, critical thinking, report writing, workplace etiquette among others.
With Australia’s unemployment rate rising and graduate positions becoming harder to gain, students are finding that they need to be competitive and differentiate themselves in the employment market. That many students are willing to spend their time developing their skills is really encouraging and reflective of their awareness that they need to gain employability skills.
The two pieces of advice which are repeated by every graduate recruiter I meet is – network – and be able to best answer the “tell us something about yourself” question. Networking can be difficult for some; the advice I give in my workshops is to set a networking goal and research ahead who is going to be in attendance. Someone recently told me they had set themselves a networking goal of twenty coffee meet-ups per week! I do believe that goal setting is really important in approaching networking with purpose.
The “tell us something about yourself” question was a surprise to me, as I thought recent graduates would be able to articulate an answer to this quite well – and I am sure many can. However, in an interview situation what many expect is to be asked questions about their degree or technical knowledge and as one recruiter put it to me “I trust the university has awarded you the degree correctly, I want to know what else are you going to bring?” It can be hard to put aside all the degree related stuff that you have spent at least three years head down working hard towards gaining. However it is really important to set yourself apart from other candidates and by understanding your own skills it can help you to best articulate them to employers.* image - Morrissey gets a job by Brian Brooks, http://brian-brooks.tumblr.com/post/5752722983/morrissey-gets-a-job-by-brian-brooks-1999