Studying business abroad is a great way to put yourself ahead of the competition in the current job market. The extra cultural experience and the internationally recognised qualification you will graduate with really help when it comes to getting a job. Unfortunately, in today’s economic climate, that might not be enough, as more and more people graduate with excellent degrees, it takes something really special to stand out from the crowd. In this article we take a look at the things that businesses are looking for in a recent business graduate, and how you can get ahead of the competition so you secure your dream job upon completing a business degree abroad.
More than Just Grades
Businesses are swamped with job applications for every available position. Many businesses receive applications for posts that aren’t even vacant. These applications aren’t just coming from graduates with poor results, these are first-class honours students, perhaps even with a postgraduate degree. Graduate roles are particularly fiercely fought over, usually with every applicant holding a ‘good’ degree. The extensive and thorough application processes that are synonymous with graduate positions are designed to seek out more than just academic knowledge. They seek out experience that shows you can apply your knowledge to the real world. They want to know that you will be able to put your degree knowledge and experiences to use in their workplace. It’s quite possible they will not be interested in what you studied at university, as they will want to teach you the way the company works. Instead, they’ll want to see a number of qualities that will allow them to shape you into the employee they are looking for in the long run. But what are these qualities they look for, and how do you develop these for yourself?
Perhaps the most important skill employers will look for in new recruits, particularly at graduate level is leadership. They want to know that you are capable of not just working on a particular project, but eventually leading it. Graduates can be found in many positions, but you’ll find that more often than not, their job role will always involve an element of leadership. Whether that is leading a team or making decisions on a project.
Building your leadership skills therefore is something that should be addressed sooner rather than later. Look to join societies, where you can help to lead projects or events. In group work environments, ask if you can be team leader. Enquire at the careers advice centre of your institution whether there are any projects where you can get involved to further your leadership skills.
SEE ALSO: Leadership Courses
The second-most important skill for a graduate position, just behind leadership, is a skill that some may see as the opposite. Of course, we are talking about teamwork, but it is in fact a skill that goes hand in hand with leadership. Employers want to know that you aren’t going to clash with your colleagues. They don’t want an employee who will bulldoze their ideas through meetings or shout down ideas in favour of their own at each available opportunity. Yet teamworking is more than just conflict avoidance. It’s about working with others to produce better results as a group than as a collection of individuals.
Building your teamwork skills is an easy thing to do though. Get out and join societies, work with your fellow students on projects, join a local sports team. Just like most things in life, practice makes perfect, and although you may not become the ‘perfect team player’ after just 90 minutes of football, it is an excellent start. The more you work within a team environment, the better you will perform as a team player. It is perhaps one skill that is actually enjoyable to work on as well as being hugely beneficial.
Some people are confident. Some people aren’t. That’s not the way it has to be though. Confidence is a skill that can be developed, and if you are hoping on landing a graduate role it’s one area of personal development you really want to pay attention to. The reason employers want a confident team is they tend to integrate better into a team, and they are more likely to speak out with ideas. If businesses are built on ideas, then it’s confident people that build businesses.
So how do you build confidence? For some, it’s a matter of practice standing up in front of an audience and giving a presentation. Others feel they lack confidence in decision making, in which case it’s a good idea to get out and join a society. If you haven’t already noticed a trend, societies and extra-curricular activity is what will help you to build the skills employers are looking for. Whilst potential employers aren’t necessarily interested in your day-to-day role within a particular society, they are interested in the skills you take away from them.
This is a skill that is crucial to any job position, but being able to prove such a skill is very difficult. In a graduate position, where you may find yourself running a particular part of the business or leading a team on a project, you’ll need to be able to not just motivate yourself, but also your team. You need to start to think now how you can prove that you are a motivated individual. This may be through extra-curricular activities you are involved with; competitive sport is a very good example to provide. If you’re not a sports person, perhaps look at joining a society where a competitive edge is key.
The extra effort you put in now to prove you have these skills will be worth it once you come to that first job interview. Preparation is key to your success in the job market, and the sooner you start, the better positioned you will be when you graduate.
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