“Employability” is a current buzzword that is at the forefront of UK universities minds when developing degree programmes. This relates to ensuring that education qualifications achieve the desired result for students in terms of providing the skills and experience you need to succeed in the workplace. Even if you were not familiar with the term, employability was also perhaps one of the main considerations when deciding upon which course to study. Now that you are preparing to apply for internships or jobs, you need to think about your own employability and how to communicate this to potential employers.
In Hong Kong, employers are clear on what they expect. According to research conducted by the British Council, employers view communication skills and teamwork as the most important skills for fresh graduates, followed by analytical thinking, adaptability and English language ability. For more senior level roles, Hong Kong employers also have difficulty recruiting candidates with leadership ability and a world view. Likewise, a study by the Chinese Manufacturers Association and City University of Hong Kong in 2011 identified a perception by employers that graduates lack soft skills (e.g. communication and interpersonal skills) and an ability to solve problems.
If your experience to date is limited to studying, or perhaps an internship or volunteer work, you might think that you don’t have much to demonstrate. However you would be wrong!
The style of instruction in UK universities is intended to give you skills and abilities that are relevant after you graduate, such as a combination of both individual research and teamwork, and also creativity and independent thought. Conducting research independently gives you analytical thinking, self-motivation, persistence and the ability to find solutions to problems. Most programmes will include group assignments, which will usually be practical in nature and directly relate to industry case studies or real life examples. From this you will have developed the communication skills and teamwork that employers value so highly. Lectures are also supplemented by small group tutorials, where students are expected to put forth points of view and discuss topics related to their coursework. This further boosts your communication skills and analytical thinking.
When preparing for job applications you therefore want to think about not just your experience, but what skills and abilities these experiences have given you. Being able to relate your UK study experience to what employers are looking for may give you an edge.
Graduation means much more than listing your qualification on your CV. Go beyond that and illustrate to employers what skills and abilities you have learned as a result of your studies, and relate these to the skills and abilities that your future employer is looking for.
Steve Corry is the Regional Business Development Manager at British Council Hong Kong. British Council has been a supporting organisation of JUCS since our establishment.