Superior Employability skills is what you need to possess as a new graduate in order to compete for the limited job openings available in the market. To do this, you are going to have to possess two core skills. The first one is called soft skills.
Soft skills are typically termed as “work sense” skills. They are skills that you normally wouldn’t learn in a traditional learning setting, that is, from school or any structured learning environment. These are skills that one is expected to know, but is actually never taught. However, soft skills are highly valued in the work environment. There are a couple of soft skills that every new African graduate needs to possess and these are:
Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills
This is arguably the overarching one. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills is simply your ability to stand up and solve problems.
For all young people, especially those fresh out of the university, your key objective at the workplace is to solve problems. The key objective is not to identify problems or to fish for problems. Rather, it is to solve problems, whether big or small. The main target, however, is to prepare to solve big problems. So the first core skill that is imperative to possess is problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which is the ability to think very objectively and critically when a task is given.
Personal Management Skills
The next skill set that is equally important is personal management skills. Ask yourself, how do I carry myself? How do I groom myself? How do I smell? Do I observe dental hygiene? These are very basic things that most people tend to overlook but are very important in the workplace. Making sure one is also dressed properly per the company standards is very important. For more formalized companies, it would not be advisable to dress even semi-formally. Likewise, for less strict companies that encourage their employees to dress casually, putting on a formal outfit would also not be advisable. In all cases, the main objective is to dress appropriately according to the company’s standard. Time management also plays a very important role in personal management. Being prepared ahead of time, arriving early to work, being able to meet deadlines, these are all very important aspects of the workplace that would suffer if time is not managed properly.
Another important skill under Personal Management skills is developing likeability skills. The aim here is not to be involved in workplace politics but to become likeable, relatable – being able to find common ground with coworkers – this is what is meant by likeability and this is very important because the time spent in the workplace increases as one’s career also progresses. Again, when outside the office like the cafeteria or staff retreats, being a likeable person is helps as you are easy to get along with. So then, ask yourself; When I begin to spend more time at the workplace, will I be someone my coworkers will be happy spending all that time with?
Finally, one set of skill every new African graduate must possess is communication skills. When it comes to one’s work, one should possess the ability to communicate assertively with no apology. A lot of people appreciate someone who communicates clearly and confidently. If you are someone who has a strong accent, the best way to speak clearly is to speak slowly as well as a little louder than you normally would. It may surprise you that in viewing your accent as a disadvantage it may actually be an advantage in some cases. In your line of work, you may have to present to high ranking officials and executives. Your ability to communicate effectively both by tongue and by pen will go a long way in making a positive impact on your career.
These are skills that are very important when it comes to the digital aspect of one’s work. For new employees or university graduates, you must make yourselves highly skilled digitally so that in the workplace, not only do you cement your position as the go-to-person but you also greatly improve your indispensability. Again, the older, less skilled coworkers would come to you for help or advice on things like spreadsheets, formulas, presentation slides and a whole lot more. How does one achieve this level of mastery? For example, a new piece of software or even hardware arrives at the workplace, be the first in line to learn about it and how it works. You will then cascade your knowledge down to your coworkers. In doing so, you make yourself versatile and even better, a problem solver.
Spreadsheets (Excel/Google Sheets)
Mainly, learning the skills revolving around spreadsheet manipulation such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel is very key. Since both of them are greatly similar, If you can work with one of them, you can easily work with the other. Writing basic functions and formulas, formatting a spreadsheet or using conditional formatting, creating charts and graphs, removing duplicates from a spreadsheet, data validation, being able to do text delimiters, performing concatenation functions, using V-Lookups, as well as formatting pages for printing are all simple spreadsheet manipulation skills every new African graduate must possess. If you would like to go a lot deeper, learning things like pivot tables, transpose formulas, indirect formulas and math and index functions are very essential. Again, learning these digital skills will put you in pole position to become indispensable at the workplace
Social Media Marketing
Then there’s social media marketing. This is something every new graduate must know about. First off, learning the basics of graphic design is important. Due to technological advancements, tools used for graphic design have become easier to use and hence, there’s no need to even learn things like Photoshop (unless you’re a professional designer) to be able to successfully do any graphic designing. Canva, Crello and Pixelied are only a few of the many free tools available for graphic designing and especially in this case, for creating social media graphics. This gives you an edge in creating and managing social media business pages for your company or for business clients. More and more companies are beginning to spend money on hiring digital agencies or people who specialize in that kind of work to create Facebook ads for their businesses. By learning how to also create Facebook ads, not only do you save your company money, but you also solidify your position as an expert in the organization you would work for.
Slide design is not just learning abou how to use PowerPoint. PowerPoint is just one of the many tools used to create slides. There’s Google sheets, Prezi, Canva and a whole slew of other tools you can use to create stunning presentation slides and they are even easier to use these days. Learning this skill is very important because you will find that a lot of even established employees struggle in this area. They create very cramped and overwhelming slides that either leave the audience bored and unengaged or they get distracted from the message the presenter is trying to deliver. Learning how to create stunning, effective slides, maxing the use of graphics and little text per slide, will go a long way to enable you to create amazing slides for your bosses. Then finally, if you can, delve into data visualization with tools like Google Data Studio, where you will be able to create amazing reports for your company or organization.
So in a nutshell, the two broad employability skills that you need to master to stay competitive in any job market are soft skills and digital skills. As a new African graduate, you must possess these skills if you want to greatly increase your chances of getting employed. In addition, they help cement your position at the workplace and make you highly indispensable.