Jun 2017
8

5 Skills That Will Make Fresh Grads Look Like Veterans In The Workplace


5 Skills That Will Make Fresh Grads Look Like Veterans In The Workplace

The workplace is a dark and scary place, or so you have been told. Intrusive colleagues, time-consuming projects that warrant 10-hour work days, bosses whom you might never be able to satisfy – we’ve heard all the rumours and wonder if it truly is as frightening as they put it.

The reality is that you never really know what you are in for until you enter the workforce. Until then, instead of scaring yourself with hearsay, one way you can prepare yourself is by investing in your soft skills.

We identify five skills that will give any newbie a boost in the workplace.

Adaptability

In a study, recruiters considered “adaptability” as one of the most essential skills and what they think graduates lack.

Ad-hoc tasks, random meetings and sudden change in company directions are all part and parcel of work life. For someone who is new,the sheer number of unfamiliar things you face can be especially overwhelming. 

Since change is the only constant, your ability to adapt and learn quickly will help you stand out among your peers. Remember, it is not the strongest that survives, but the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment.

Communication

The Society for Human Resource Management evaluated that companies lose an estimated $62.4 million annually due to poor communication.

You may believe that only certain jobs require you to communicate succinctly. However, even the ACCA highlights the importance of being able to communicate well, stating that it is the core activity of the accounting profession. Translating the jargon used in forms so that everyone can understand and fill them up appropriately will allow for a smooth flow of information.

Compared to group projects where you will usually pair up with fellow course mates with a similar background, you will find yourself working alongside people from other fields of study, who will not intuitively grasp the complex terms and theories that you have spent years mastering. Your communication skills will be put to test when dealing with such a situation.

Critical thinking

As Singapore becomes a Smart Nation, your biggest competitor for the much-coveted job may no longer be your peer, but a robot.

According to a report by CNN, 5 million jobs will cease to exist by 2020. To prepare yourself for the future, it is imperative to pick up skills that are irreplaceable by robots. While robots may beat us in its processing speed, it is unable to conceive creative solutions to unmet problems. Your ability to think critically in the face of complex situations will come in handy regardless of industry.

Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah said: "Students today need to have critical and inventive thinking skills to thrive in a complex world, where jobs now require non-routine analytical and interactive tasks."

The biggest enemy for any organisation looking to innovate and stay ahead of the curve is Groupthink, an occurrence in which all employees think the same way. The opposite of that is critical thinking, which explains why organisations place a premium on this skillset. Develop the habit to challenge assumptions, engage in independent thinking and you will be an invaluable asset in the future economy in Singapore.

Confidence

This is not necessarily a soft skill, but important nevertheless especially for those fresh out of school. Indeed, it can be tough to be the new guy in the workplace. Senior workers may feel that they are better than you simply because they have more experience, or perhaps threatened by your presence jeopardising their career progression. Having confidence in your capabilities

Don’t get us wrong though – being confident does not mean you get to sing your own praises. What is just as important is having the courage to accept feedback. A recent study conducted by a leadership training firm found that 46 per cent of new hires will fail within 18 months. Of those that fail, 26 per cent do so because they can’t accept feedback and criticism from other employees. On the contrary, new hires that thrive in the workplace are those who are bold enough to ask for feedback and improve themselves continuously.

Networking

Developing a strong network within and beyond the company can give you a huge career boost. This may sound insignificant for a new joiner, considering you might have nothing to boast or share about at a networking event.

The key to good networking is for people to actually like you. When you’re at a networking event, show genuine interest in getting to know the other professionals. And don’t limit conversations to work-related topics – make an effort to ask them about their hobbies and interests. At work, it wouldn’t hurt to offer a helping hand to a colleague or ask others how they’re doing every once in a while.

If you wish to seek out and pick up these soft skills, here are some tips for you:

  • Look for a mentor: A mentor can provide a lot of insights about your industry. To find one, you can seek internship opportunities or approach an alumnus of your school.
  • Go for courses: In partnership with JobsCentral Learning, LSBF in Singapore’s online courses aim to train students’ soft skills to complement their technical classes. Make sure you take advantage of it.

The better hire: Fresh grad or veteran?

While a degree gets you through the door, you need more than a piece of paper to survive and thrive in the corporate jungle. Don’t dismiss soft skills as something that comes naturally – take steps to develop them throughout your career.

Some people can chalk up years of work experience yet lack valuable skills which could help them excel and progress in their careers. Ultimately, it is about maximising your time in the workforce that counts. So, be willing to learn, accept feedback with enthusiasm, and continuously build upon your abilities. 

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