- Volunteering with SU.
- Joining a campus club or society.
- Participating in an internship programme.
- Attending Careers fairs or employer networking event.
- Completing employability programmes.
- Seeking out mentorship or guidance from professionals in your field.
- Writing for a campus publication or blog.
- Conducting research with a professor or industry expert.
- Participating in study abroad programmes or exchange programs.
- Serving as a peer mentor or teaching assistant.
- Developing a personal brand and online presence through social media and blogging.
- Participating in business games and challenges.
- Attending professional development workshops and seminars.
- Contributing to group projects or community initiatives.
- Participating in design competitions or showcases.
- Organizing and hosting events on campus.
- Participating in problem-based learning projects or case studies.
- Joining a mentorship program or mentorship network.
- Attending conferences or industry events to network and learn about the latest trends in your field.
- Collaborating with classmates on group projects or research initiatives.
“What do employers look for in students and graduates for employment?”
“Its very much understanding what each individual has done with their life, not just their academic life. So, its understanding where they have worked in teams, being able to work with different people, how they have been able to manage projects” – Mark Shimmings, Deloitte
“It’s really important for students to try their best to speak to as many employers, putting themselves out there and see if they can do volunteer days, work placement opportunities different things like that because it really gives you a great idea of the industry that you want to go into and the different people you can meet and also helps to build your confidence with talking to different people and professionals” – Eilish Crickard, ESO
“A lot of our interviews as about your collaboration, your teamwork, your communication skills” – Claire Brennan, FinTrU
“We look for people who can put into practice what they’ve learned and can take a practical approach and a very personable approach to what we do” – Brian Moss, Worthingtons solicitors
“You see a lot of amazing CVs but its not really just about what you’ve studied and what you’ve done its about being able to apply those skills, being able to communicate with people… its really important to try different things and put yourself out there and just try build your CV because lots of people have a degree nowadays so its trying to find that niche that will make you more attractable to employers” – Eilish Crickard, ESO
“Obviously, a degree is important in a lot of the roles but not all of them but yes additional to that, its how they utilise what they’ve done through their life as well as their degree and can align the skills that they’ve learnt in order to use those in their roles moving forward.” – Emma McCourt, NIE Networks
“We don’t expect people to have working experience but there are so many transferable skills from the clubs, societies.” – Niamh Heaney , FinTrU
“Extracurricular activities such as the, you can see everywhere here about the clubs and the societies that’s very important for us at Baker McKenzie as well, we have so many clubs and committees, so if they have any information like that on their CV, again just makes them stand out a little bit more.” – Sarah Fowler, Baker McKenzie
“Why do employers come to QUB campus for recruitment?”
“Queen’s produce some really excellent graduates and it’s the range of graduates that come out of Queens within Deloitte we are looking for a wide range of skills and Queen’s equips the students with those range of skills, not just academic but softer skills that we are looking for” – Mark Shimmings, Deloitte
“The reputation the university, the quality of the teaching is all huge positives for coming specifically to Belfast, and to Queen’s.” – John Paul Cooney, Bank of America
“There is a number of Queen’s students that are already working for us and that their dedication, enthusiasm and desire to work for our business is just amazing and we love having them on the team, they’re great fun and absolutely know their subject” – Helen Sayers, Cooneen Group
Stay ahead in the competitive graduate job market by developing your core skill set. Here are some of the top skills employers will look for in 2022.
It is no secret that our attention spans are a lot shorter than previous generations. We are so used to consuming hundreds of messages at record speed that we no longer know how to fully focus on one message at a time.
Active listening involves understanding what the other person is saying, as well as truly hearing it.
In terms of customer service, you hear their problem, but you also understand why it is a problem for them and what solution they are looking for.
2. Written, Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
How we come across in emails, the language we use to talk to those around us, and how we use our body language are all forms of communication.
Understanding how you communicate and how you can adapt it to suit different audiences shows maturity and empathy.
It also suggests that you would be a good leader – traits all employers look for when recruiting.
Collaboration is similar to teamwork.
It is the ability to work with others to complete a task or project.
Employers assessing collaboration skills will be looking at if you can bring a team together, how you support your colleagues and if you can develop an idea by offering constructive feedback or by building on it.
Emotional intelligence indicates how well you understand people, and this comes in twofold.
The first is with your colleagues. Today’s world wants a peaceful workplace where everyone thrives. Having employees that can see when someone is struggling or having a difficult time and has the emotional tools to help them creates a workplace of trust and collaboration.
The second is with consumers or customers. Products and services are driven by consumer needs and motivations. Understanding what motivates a person or what problems they need resolving will help you develop innovative products/services that will sell.
Critical thinking is the ability to analyse data and form a judgment.
With AI technology, a lot of today’s thinking is done for us. An algorithm works through whatever information you provide and offers a selection of options to choose from.
But not all information should (or can) be analysed by a computer.
Having this skillset shows employers that you can:
- Understand data
- Draw out common factors
- Apply those factors to the market/person/situation you are working on
- Make an informed decision
6.Problem-Solving and Decision Making
This deals with how well you can work with others to find a solution.
Everyone has their own opinion, but the skill lies in working with others to think the problem through and come up with a solution that benefits the company.
Again, workplace norms are changing, and behaviour that was tolerated previously no longer is.
As such, conflict resolution is sometimes needed. If someone in your team is making offensive comments or not pulling their weight, you should have the skills to gently resolve the situation before it escalates.
This skill is desired among all employees, particularly those going into HR or leadership roles.
8.Professional Attitude and Self-Motivation
As a generalisation, there is a lack of accountability among new graduates.
How many times have you blamed something on technology rather than taking responsibility? Missed appointments or been late because you didn’t get your reminder notification. Forgot to pay something because it wasn’t in your calendar?
Employers want to see that you are motivated and that they can depend on you. They want to see that you have a career plan, can manage multiple commitments, that you show up on time and have initiative.
Though image isn’t everything, employers also want to see that your clothes are clean and ironed and you are somewhat groomed.
It may sound shallow, but to employers, it shows you can look after yourself and, therefore, their company.
Our programme of Careers events and activities is designed to help you develop your soft skills. View and book upcoming events here
Kirsty King, a blogger from our MEDIA programme examines some key employability skills and how you can build them up during your time at university.
During your time at university, there will be lots of opportunities to collect different employability skills. Some of the ways in which you can gain these skills could range from joining a club or society or completing a career development programme, to becoming a student ambassador or volunteering. The skills gained in your chosen activities will all add up and help you to reach your full potential in your future career.
Read on to find out some of the key skills that employers look for and how you can collect these at Queen’s…
Employers like to see that you have experience of leading individuals or groups. At university, you could develop this skill by nominating yourself for a leadership position in a club or society, become a course, school or faculty representative, or even run for a part-time or full-time leadership position in the Students’ Union. This year, I have been on the committee for the QUB English Society, which has been a great way of learning how a society is run. It has also given me the opportunity to plan a range of events with other committee members.
Having interpersonal skills means you have sensitivity and the ability to engage with and motivate others. A good way of developing these skills could be through volunteering as a peer mentor in your subject area. As a peer mentor myself this year, I have found the experience of helping first-year students with their transition to university very rewarding.
It’s important to be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing in a professional environment. You could develop this skill by writing for the university newspaper or getting involved in student radio. By taking part in the MEDIA Programme at Queen’s this year, I have learnt about how to communicate effectively in written blogs and social media posts. Furthermore, by presenting some segments on Queen’s Radio shows this year I have developed my oral communication skills.
Employers like to see that you can cope with complex situations. By taking part in a study or work placement at home or abroad during your degree, you will face challenges which you may not have encountered on your course, and therefore will have to use your own initiative. Last year, I took part in an Erasmus Study Placement in Belgium, during which I had to solve a number of issues which came with living and studying in a different country. Now, I feel more confident in my ability to problem-solve.
Being able to work in a team involves flexibility, adaptability and creativity. To develop your teamwork skills at university you could join a sports club, music group or any other team activity that interests you. During my time at Queen’s I have been a part of the Ladies’ Rugby Club, which has taught me the importance of teamwork and community spirit.
I hope this has given you an insight into some of the ways in which you can collect employability skills whilst at university. Why not check out the QUB Careers website, MyFuture, or organise an appointment with a Careers Consultant to find out what opportunities are out there for you!
Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18 points to a positive link between engagement with the Careers Service at Queen’s and graduate prospects.
Engagement with the Careers, Employability and Skills Service at Queen’s is more likely to improve a student’s graduate job prospects. According to published data from the Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18, there is a positive correlation between engagement with the Careers Service at Queen’s and graduate employment.
Among the key findings determined from analysis of the survey results are that attending Careers events at Queen’s gives you a better chance of getting a graduate job. Students from the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) in particular, significantly increased their chances of securing a graduate job if they attended Careers events. Students from the School of Arts, English and Languages and the School Of History, Anthropology, Philosophy And Politics are also more likely to be in a graduate role after graduation if they have successfully completed Queen’s Degree Plus employability award.
Dr Duncan Berryman, Destinations and Statistics Assistant at Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills who analysed the data said: “We found that a student’s graduate prospects improved considerably, the more Careers events they attended. Around 65% of students who attended between one and four Careers events were in graduate employment after graduating. That figure rose to 76% if a student attended over 15 Careers events during their time at Queens.”
For AHSS students, graduate employment rates rose to 79% if a student attended between 15 and 19 Careers events – a marked increase in the Faculty total graduate employability rate. Students from the AHSS Faculty were also able to boost their chances of gaining graduate employment by accessing one-to-one appointments with Consultants at Queen’s Careers Service and by achieving Degree Plus.
“Graduates from both the School of Arts, English, and Languages and from the School of History, Anthropology, Politics, and Philosophy who achieved Degree Plus were significantly more likely to secure a graduate job,” said Dr Berryman.
Eimear Gallagher, Business Operations Manager at Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills said: “The Degree Plus Award offers our students the opportunity to develop their employability, skills and experience and enables them to differentiate themselves from their peers in competitive graduate job application processes. The positive link between students with Degree Plus and graduate employment is testament to the personal initiative, effort, time management skills and resilience required to achieve the award activities alongside a degree.”
She added: “As a service, we’re committed to supporting our students and graduates to access the guidance and support they need to develop their employability. To see that that support and guidance is having a real, tangible impact on student employability is rewarding. We are proud to provide our graduates with the tools they need to enjoy a positive start to their careers.”
At Queen’s, you’ll find lots of opportunities to develop your skills, create your own brand and discover your own personal USP (unique selling point), that will ultimately get you hired in the future. Here, Lucy, Lauren and Daniella from our MEDIA programme reveal the different tacks they have taken to improve their employability and their career confidence.
‘I’m building an online brand’
“In the year of 2020, we have seen that anything can happen! This year has meant that not only have we as students have had to adapt our ways, but so too have employers. The increase of webcam interviews has meant recruiters will be researching candidates’ online profiles more than ever before. So, there is now more pressure to demonstrate an online presence to potential employers and recruiters.
But developing an online presence doesn’t have to be difficult! It can be as easy as gaining a social media following, constructing an online portfolio of works or starting a LinkedIn account.
Not only is LinkedIn free to use, it is also a great way of making connections with professionals in your sector.
There’s also a handy job search engine with plenty of job listings waiting for your application!
Not to mention, you can upload your CV and create content for potential employers to view when they’re exploring your profile.
So why not create an account? Simply add a professional photo, a summary of yourself, your skills and employment history and there, you have an online presence!” -Lucy Roy
‘I’m volunteering online’
“For a lot of young people, volunteering is a great way to gain skills for employment and gain independence. This has been a little bit tougher to do during the COVID-19 lockdown with a lot of charities closing their offices and working from home. I personally am a really dedicated volunteer of Women’s Aid and have been for over six years. I’m used to attending events and public speaking which both haven’t been possible. I’ve found a way that I can use my other skills to still positively impact the charity from home as I am a broadcast production student and have experience making short films. I decided I would produce short videos for the charity’s social media to compliment and promote their campaigns. For their autumn campaign, I made a short film called ‘Walk A Mile In Her Shoes’ where I emailed staff and volunteers to take a video of their shoes walking outside in their gardens or on their walk for example so that I didn’t have to come into contact with anyone and I could still edit together a really powerful piece to push their campaign forward and encourage more engagement. This really benefited my skills and working remotely under the extreme circumstances of the pandemic, but still being able to produce work.
If there is a cause or charity you volunteered with before the pandemic and you haven’t felt connected or felt there was no way you could contribute, then think deeper and approach them. Maybe they don’t know how you could be helpful but see it as an opportunity to progress your career and enhance and gain skills. For me, this was producing short videos because that was something related to my degree and I knew I was capable of it but whatever degree you are in, think about what skills you have or need for that career and approach a charity that could really do with your help remotely through these tough times. This could also be as simple as an online fundraiser for a small local charity that is struggling to stay afloat. So get involved and make a difference in your community from the comfort of your own home so you can develop your CV.” -Daniella Timperley
‘I’m attending career-enhancing events’
“Cinemagic, Belfast’s Film and TV Festival, hosts a CineFocus Jury event every year. If you like to watch films and appreciate the cinema this type of event is for you. Do you tend to discuss and review the films you watch? The CineFocus Jury event is for you! I recently took part in the event. The event is for 15 – 25 year olds which means it is the perfect event for students in university. You have the opportunity to watch movies from all over the world. Review, comment and judge them with forms that you send in. Ranking the films as you review them you decide what will be shown at the festival.
It is an interactive and challenging experience based on your critical skills and experience with film. You can add it to your CV as an experience.
It is pretty easy to do, you email and apply for the event. With a small fee you receive the details to sign and receive the link to go onto the online Cinemagic Festival online. You create an account; login and the event should be added to your screen. It’s as simple as that.
Cinemagic is a great site for events along the media sector. It’s also a way to connect with others in the industry and join events where they host meetings with professionals in the media sector. It’s a great place to gain valuable insight. So be sure to check the website out!” – Lauren Watt
For more ways to develop your employability at university, check out Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills website.
Pick up a hobby
Find something you’re interested in! Blogging is a great way to improve your employability, as regular articles will show off your content-writing skills to employers. On the other hand, playing a team sport will demonstrate that you understand how to work in a team. You could even try a hobby that is a bit more ‘out there’ – pushing the limits of what is considered the norm will give employers a reason to look twice at your CV!
Write, write, write
Queen’s has its own newspaper and other platforms which provide plenty of writing opportunities – get involved with these to hone your content and copywriting skills to stand you in good stead for graduate jobs. There is always a reason to improve your written communication, and journalism also contains elements of research. Ask around and find out what you can contribute, and don’t forget to keep a record of what you do to show employers later on!
Learn a language
Having a second (or third) language under your belt can help you to stand out in a competitive jobs market. Business in all forms is increasingly international so mastering a well-used language such as Spanish or French will often give you an edge. What’s more, the hard work and dedication that learning a new language entails is bound to impress employers. There are plenty of online resources and apps available to help you to become bilingual!
Take a short course
There’s no better way to improve your graduate employability than by embarking on a short course to improve your skills. Short, online courses from providers such as FutureLearn and Coursera are available in a range of subjects, so if you want to discover what’s involved in a particular role or brush up on soft skills there will be a course for you. It doesn’t have to be related to your career – any course taken demonstrates to employers your initiative and organisational skills!
Become an ambassador
Being a student ambassador is the perfect chance to demonstrate your drive and commitment, all without doing too much strenuous work. MyFuture often advertises opportunities for student assistants in the university and students’ union in a range of areas. Often these jobs will pay, so it can be doubly worth your while applying. Lots of companies also have university ambassador schemes, which you can apply to as well!
For more on developing your employability at Queen’s visit our Degree Plus site and find out how you can get an award at graduation on recognition of the skills you have built up.
Lunch and learn all about Queen’s employability award on 11 November from 12.30pm- 1.30pm.
What is Degree Plus?
Degree Plus is Queen’s employability award. It allows you to earn an extra certificate at graduation in recognition of the extra-curricular activities you take part in during your time at Queen’s. Volunteering, exchange programmes, peer mentoring and language courses all count towards the award.
How do you earn Degree Plus?
There are two ways of earning your Degree Plus Award. The first is called Provider Verified – where you complete one big activity and the activity provider automatically applies for the award on your behalf. The second route is called Combined Experience – this is where you complete two or more smaller extra-curricular activities and you apply for the award yourself, stating on the application form which of the 12 Degree Plus Employability Skills you enhanced during your chosen activities.
Provider Verified is the most straightforward way to get the award. Once you have completed the activity, you will automatically be recommended for the award. You don’t need to do anything else except collect your certificate at graduation (it will list the activities you completed on the certificate).
What happens at the Degree Plus Employability Festival?
During the Degree Plus Employability Festival, you will have a chance to meet providers who are offering programmes, activities and courses that are pre-approved for Degree Plus accreditation.
These are people who have the power to make you more employable in a number of ways. Firstly, the programmes they offer are designed to enhance your employability skills, making you instantly more attractive to prospective employers. Secondly, just by completing their activity, you will be provided with an award that you can talk about in future interviews as proof positive of your skills. Lastly, the fact that you took part in an activity and earned the award is in itself a testament of your initiative and automatically sets you apart from the crowd.
What types of providers are attending the festival?
From exchange and placement programmes to volunteering, research, mentoring and language courses, there will be a number of providers there offering a range of fun and rewarding activities that can help you achieve an extra certificate at graduation in recognition of the skills you have developed. All the providers attending the festival have confirmed that they are still running their programmes and activities this year.
Who else will be at the Festival?
You can also chat with the Degree Plus team and hear what employers like EY and NICVA have to say about the award.
Where is it being held?
The Festival is being held virtually in MyFuture, our online careers portal. You might previously have used MyFuture to search for jobs and events, or even to access CV help and support. But the portal has added a host of new features, including a virtual event hosting function, so we are excited to show you around.
Where does the lunch bit come in?
All attending students will be entered into a draw to win one of six £20 Just Eat vouchers – now who said there is no such thing as a free lunch?
The DEGREE PLUS EMPLOYABILITY FESTIVAL is being held virtually on 11 November between 12.30-1.30pm.