What will determine how successful you will be if you opt for a career in the corporate sector? What do employers really want from their new employees? And how do recruiters assess the potential to grow in the organisation?
Much research has been carried out in relation to these questions, resulting in long list of desirable characteristics, which obviously vary depending on the sector.
My list below is a simplified summary, primarily based on listening to a range of employers over the years, who shared with me what they look for when hiring and, importantly, what transforms employees into high-fliers.
1) Knowledge and skills
To enter an organisation at mid-level, employers expect basic knowledge and skills in the relevant area of work. If you are too reliant on theory, employers are unlikely to be impressed. They expect you to have a good grasp of the basic skills needed and the ability to develop swiftly on the job.
Often the fundamental knowledge will come from your college education, with enhanced skills coming from voluntary work, industry placements, studying abroad, involvement with student unions, sports and other extracurricular activities.
2) People skills
To progress to middle and senior management levels the most important skills you need to demonstrate are people skills: the ability to work efficiently as part of a team; to have sensitivity, understanding and cultural awareness; and the ability to communicate well in a variety of situations, and with different audiences.
It is primarily your social aptitude, rather than just your subject knowledge, that will allow you to progress in your career.
The harsh reality is that you will quickly hit a ceiling in most corporate organisations if you are not particularly bright; however, the good news is that it doesn’t necessarily require academic excellence (unless of course you wish to opt for an academic career).
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