The labour market is changing fast. Unfortunately, both secondary and higher education adapt to these changes at a remarkably slower pace. Hence, there is a lot of discussion that graduates are not equipped with the necessary work skill-set.
In general, employers are seeking for people who can:
- work in teams. At a work setting, success depends on how well a team can collaborate. Unfortunately at schools and universities, it is individual performance that is mainly assessed. There are very few projects that prepare students to work with others.
- be flexible and adaptable. New technological advancements and unexpected challenges require people who can continuously develop themselves. Lifelong learning will be necessary.
What do you need to do now so you can become more employable?
- Participate in team projects organized by your school (e.g. Young Enterprise). You will get a good understanding of the benefits and the challenges when working as a team.
- Get some work experience under your belt. Take every possible opportunity to work even for a short period of time (summer jobs, paid or unpaid internships, etc). It will be an invaluable experience for you. It is only by doing that you will learn what you like and what you are good at.
- Consider a gap year e.g.you can get a temporary job in Australia, volunteer for a humanitarian project in South East Asia, etc. You will learn to work in culturally diverse environments. In the truly globally connected world we live, this will be a key competency for the future.
- Learn a foreign language. There is no doubt that business is mainly done in English. Nevertheless, it will be a huge advantage if you can master one of the languages of the upcoming superpowers e.g. think of learning Chinese.
Getting involved in the initiatives mentioned above will strengthen your resume. It will send a clear signal to potential employers that you realize there are many opportunities out there and you willing to put energy and effort to make things happen.
The bottom line: By participating in extra-curriculum activities, you will learn a lot and you will stand out from the crowd. As a result, you will become more employable.
Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author of 2 books, coach and speaker. She has worked as senior pharmaceutical executive for 12 years and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her blog b4iapply is recommended by The Guardian for professional development.