The number of jobs available for graduates is predicted to rise by 10.2%, according to a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters. Good news for students – but when you come to apply for your first job after university, are you sure you'll have the relevant skills for the post?
Leaving it until you're sitting in front of a blank computer screen trying to write your CV for a graduate job may well be too late to assess the qualities you've got to offer.
"From day one students should see the start of university as the start of their working life," says Dan Hawes, co-founder of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. "Think of the skills you need to have when you finish university in three or four years time and then work backwards, so you're hoarding
skills each year."
Gemma Pirnie, founder of Your New Crew, says: "When I left university I was completely unprepared for what the grad market would throw at me. I thought having a 2:1 from a good university and having a bit of (irrelevant) work experience would see me land a job no problem – not the case."
Obviously the skills you need will depend on the job you apply for, but there are some things that graduate recruiters are looking for that you can start thinking about now.
"Candidates who start their own societies, organise their university ball or start their own T-shirt-making business while at uni tend to have a good grasp of how a business makes money," says Cary Curtis, managing director of Give-a-grad-a-go.“
An understanding of business is one of the main skills that students underestimate, according to a 2013 Guardian survey. Less than 10% of students thought it was a vital skill, compared to nearly 50% of employers.
"You don't need to be the next Mark Zuckerberg," says Curtis, "but having a good idea of how a business runs and the challenges involved are really useful skills to take into a company."
"More and more employers are wanting graduates to have a 'global mindset', which means understanding different cultures and how industries work across borders," says Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters.
Isherwood recommends that students make the most of time at uni to meet people from around the world, consider study abroad schemes like Erasmus, and says that speaking another language shows that a grad has a "better cultural understanding".
伊舍伍德建议学生们多花时间和来自世界各地的人交流，考虑伊拉斯莫国外交流学习项目，会从中受益很多。伊舍伍德也讲道，会讲一门外语也体现出毕业生有“更好的文化理解能力”。（小编注：“Erasmus Mundus” 项目是欧洲在高等教育领域的一个合作性学生交流项目。）
"If you speak another language then make sure it's clearly displayed on your CV," says Curtis. "We really like bilingual candidates as they usually interview really well. But quite often their CV doesn't do them justice. 'Business fluent French' looks much better than just 'French A-level at grade A' as it offers a company more."
Be careful though. "If you haven't had much practice with your languages make sure you scrub up
before sending out a CV that implies you can hold your own.
A squeaky clean digital footprint
"Start building a digital footprint of relevance to what you want to do," says Smith. "Employers, just like everyone else, will look on the internet as a first port of call."
That might mean setting up a LinkedIn profile, starting your own blog or website, joining Twitter, and generally making sure you're careful about what goes online connected to you.
Chris Smith, chief executive of Opinio Group recruiters, says: "If the only thing employers can find is you with traffic cones on your head on Facebook then you're in trouble."
Knowing how to fit into an office will come in handy for many graduate jobs, so it's a good idea to look for opportunities to spend time in one while you're still a student.
Hawes says: "What some graduates might not have is the office know-how, maybe they've never worked in an office before so everything's new, whether it's answering the phone or the way you dress or address people, the things like that – office etiquette."
Sam Espensen, managing director of Conversation Creation, says: "One of the skills that has stood me in great stead is making great tea and coffee. I once had a grad refuse to make my team drinks because it 'suggested he was below the rest of us' – needless to say he didn't last long.
"We all make tea in my team and the person who brings me a cup of tea unprompted is likely to be my hero for the day."
Sussing out the culture of a workplace (whether they all make tea for each other, for example) is really important when you come to look for work.
Good with computers
"Hard skills in programming and software development for us are really valuable," says Hawes. Curtis adds that being highly numerate and having good analytical skills is increasingly important.
But even if you're not applying for a job in a tech company, being digitally savvy
is still really important.
"All employers expect graduates to be computer literate," says Isherwood. "Generally just being aware of the digital age is important. That doesn't mean having programming skills, but understanding that instant messaging and conference calls are common in the business world and having basic IT skills like working with spreadsheets and documents."
“所有的雇主都期望毕业生精通电脑，” 伊舍伍德讲道。“总的来讲，重要的是认识到现在是数码时代。这并不意味着要会编程，但是知道即时通讯和电话会议是商业中很常见的，要会使用诸如电子表格和文档等基本的电脑操作技能 。
If you've been thinking of joining a uni sports team but haven't quite found the motivation, here's another reason to join: it could help you get a job. Smith says: "What shows better that someone can be part of a team than the fact they've spent the past two years playing for a team.
Being able to work with other people is a key skill employers are looking for and you'll need to prove it's something you have had experience of beyond your course.
"When talking about teamwork don't use university examples," says Isherwood. "At uni the teams are chosen for you, so it's much more impressive to speak about sport or involvement with a society."
Talking to people
Getting confident talking to people is useful for building up your contacts. Pirnie says: "Attend industry meet ups. This will help you both with articulating
your interests and with interview techniques as you'll quickly become comfortable talking to new people.
Smith recommends going to exhibitions and conventions in your chosen field. He says: "There are small business conventions going on all over the country. Go to them, meet people, ask some questions. And if you're not sure yet quite what you want to do, all the more reason to get out there and investigate."
If you're still at uni, it's worth thinking about how you can build up all these skills. But if you're in your final year and haven't ticked them all, don't worry. "Employers often say that they hire for attitude and train for skill," says Hawes. So whatever experience you've got to your name, a positive attitude is still the most important thing you can bring to your first job.
如果你还在大学，很值得好好考虑下自己可以怎样培养这些技能。但如果你已经是大四最后一年却还没掌握全部技能， 也不要担心。“雇主们总会讲他们会选择态度，然后培养技能，” 霍斯讲道。所以，无论你有什么技能，积极的态度仍是决定你第一份工作的最重要因素。
A few more things to consider
• A driving licence:
"A driving licence certainly isn't the prerequisite
that it used to be," says Curtis, but if you haven't yet learnt to drive it's still worth trying before you leave uni. Smith says: "It can be important. Also, it speaks volumes if you can't drive. The first thing I think is – why not? It hints at laziness."
• You can pick up skills in unlikely places:
Espensen's father ran a cottage industry making model planes, and when she was a student she "reluctantly" helped out, packing the kits and posting them out. At the time she had no idea that the knowledge she built up would come in handy – but she ended up working doing the PR for the Bomber Command Memorial and realised how useful it was.
Things you get involved with at university and in your own time might not seem directly linked to what you want to do in the future, but you never know when those skills might come in handy.