Using your university experience to highlight “soft skills” to employers

So, you’ve just graduated from university and you’re worried you aren’t quite ready for that first jump into your career?

Do you feel you are still lacking the skills to make you stand out in the hiring process or are not confident in your abilities?

I have news for you: Employers are now prioritizingsoft skillsin the hiring process!

Your time at university, sweating over group work, allows you to highlight some of these soft skills on a CV and in an interview. Last term, I spent every other week of my classes working on a new group task. The pressure was on as we had 4–5 days per task and were working with new course mates every time Those experiences tested my skills working in a team and allowed me to see how important these soft skills are.

Soft skills are about your behaviors, personal attributes and cognitive thinking. They may be harder to measure but they’re just as vital as hard skills. Several soft skills employers are looking for in new recruits are emotional intelligence, leadership, being able to see the big picture and possessing excellent communication skills.

1. Emotional intelligence is about awareness of your emotions and of those around you and being able to control your emotions. If you’ve worked in groups on assignments, you’ve been put in a situation where you need to be aware of your own emotions and of those of the rest of the team. Maybe you’ve had a disagreement with another team member and had to put your feelings aside to handle the issue without causing more pressure or stress on each other. Emotional intelligence is all about empathy.

2. Leadership is also a skill you can develop through a group project. Maybe you weren’t designated “head of the team” but you were able to persuade others of your ideas. During one group task, I wasn’t necessarily keen on being the “designated” team leader, but I did persuade them on my idea for which brand to focus our assignment on, as well as selling them on the initial creative idea for the project. That is leadership.

3. Being able to see the big picture is key. This is all about the goals of the project, company or team. If you have ever had to make a decision about a paper or assignment where your choice was led by the bigger or overall goal of the task, then you are able to see the big picture in a work setting as well. During these group tasks, I found myself getting so bogged down by such tiny details at times. I had to take a step back and look at things from the big picture perspective and make choices that reflected on that.

4. Effective communication is the most important soft skill to possess, in my opinion. We all communicate with others every day. Group or team project settings may have tested your ability to communicate with others well, especially when your group is made up of diverse backgrounds. But learning to talk and listen effectively is such an immeasurable skill that many people still lack. I feel more comfortable communicating with others after these experiences.

You may feel hesitant about making that jump from university into your career or feel like you’re not ready yet. But the truth is you are more ready than you feel and being able to highlight how university allowed you to strengthen your soft skills on your CV will show an employer just how much you’ve grown in your time there. Possessing these soft skills, and being able to speak to them, will set you apart in the job search process. I’ve definitely observed this during my experience both working at SymbaSync and viewing their customers.

Written by Allison Lawrence, MSc Marketing Student, University of Edinburgh and Social Media Intern, SymbaSync