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Student Tips

5 Critical Skills for Every Graduate

The world as we knew it has evolved and so has the economic landscape following the global pandemic in 2020. Almost overnight, certain industries were grounded and many people were left uncertain how to employ their skills in a more technological and online-centric world. The skills that companies and recruiters now require are quite different from what they would have been a year ago so as a new graduate, what do you need to align yourself with the current job market? Transferable skills. In addition to your university degree, you will need to equip yourself with these critical and transferable skills in order to become a suitable candidate.

Cognitive flexibility

In a world where change is the only constant, mental agility is a valuable skill. How you react to unpredictable changes will determine how well you can balance projects, expectations and deadlines. Do you grab the unexpected positively and resourcefully adjust your thinking or behaviour or does it completely derail you? Cognitive flexibility will help you stay resilient in the face of pressure, quickly adapt when faced with new challenges and succeed when circumstances change. How do you get better at it? This is a skill that you need to practice over and over again. Expose yourself to new experiences – through volunteering for example.

Service Orientation

The ability to anticipate, recognize and meet people’s needs even before they are articulated has always been an essential skill, especially when one is working as part of a team. Recruiters and hiring managers are interested in individuals who focus not only on providing satisfaction to themselves but are actively seeking to help others. How willing are you to assist those on your team, your superiors, and people across your industry? Service orientation has is one of the fundamental elements of many organizational cultures and it does contribute to an organization’s performance and success. Quite a number of companies have done well over the last year because they were providing solutions to the many challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. As you send out applications for job opportunities, ask yourself – what service could I bring into the organization that I would like to work for and how can the organization meet the needs of its clients better.

Emotional Intelligence

In the context of the workplace, emotional intelligence entails the ability to perceive, understand and manage one’s feelings and emotional responses to events and pressures. It is widely recognized as a valuable skill that improves communication, problem-solving, management, and relationships within an organization. While this may come naturally to some people, there are things that one can do to improve their ability to understand and reason with emotions. The pandemic has had a severe impact on our emotions and now more than ever, you need to be aware of how you are coping with the many changes as well as keeping in mind that everyone has been affected in one way or another.

  • Become more self-aware. Pay attention to how you are feeling throughout the day and how those emotions contribute to your actions and decisions.
  • Practice self-regulation. Find techniques to help you cope with work-related stress, keep a cool head and take your time to think before making a move.
  • Improve your social skills. Listen actively to your colleagues and peers.
Data Skills/ Tech Savy

Making sense of data is no longer just a skill expected of data scientists and technology experts only, it has become an essential skill for anyone entering the job market. Not all jobs require hardcore data science skills, but what is desperately needed is for every employee to be data literate to participate in and contribute to the data economy. Since data has become such a critical commodity for businesses, the most important data skill that individuals should develop is data extraction and preparation. It’s a skill set that allows workers to identify valuable data as they see it in their daily work and to preserve it or enter it into an appropriate database in a usable format. This process is more broadly known as extract, transform, and load (ETL). To support that process, it’s a good idea for workers to get familiar with different technologies and workflows, data visualization, web analytics, and data security. 2020 is the year that companies (that could) depended heavily on remote work and employees had to step up their tech skills. As the world starts to recover from the pandemic, these skills are only going to become essentials rather than desirables so you best get ahead of the curve.


Creativity is not solely related to arts and culture. Without creativity, there would be no innovation and studies show that there it gives you an edge in a world driven by artificial intelligence and new technologies. People with creative minds tend to ask questions and find new solutions to problems. They are more likely to experiment with ideas leading to new processes that could benefit colleagues and the organization as a whole. Organizations that had creative thinkers managed to quickly adapt to the changes brought by the global pandemic and continue to thrive because of that.  How do you cultivate your creativity? Read. Take more risks. Surround yourself with different personalities. Take up new hobbies and explore interests outside your work.

In conclusion, don’t just rely on good grades and a certificate to secure a job. There’s so much to learn outside the classroom and adopting some of this advice will make you an outstanding candidate for your next interview.

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