One of the oft-repeated complaints from employers today is that their new recruits are not even close to employment ready when they join them. Hence, in today's job market, students need to be equipped with more than just academic qualifications.
Employers often have specific expectations when it comes to the employability of students, and understanding and addressing these expectations can greatly enhance students' chances of getting the desired job.
In the Indian context, employers value a range of skills and qualities that go beyond theoretical knowledge. Let's explore some key areas where employers commonly have expectations and how students can meet them.
1. Technical Skills: This is the most obvious skill to have. Employers prefer students with relevant technical skills related to their field of study. Proficiency in programming languages, software tools, data analysis, engineering principles, design software, and other industry-specific skills are highly valued. Students should focus on acquiring and developing these technical skills through coursework, internships, projects, or certifications.
2. Communication Skills: Students should be able to effectively convey their ideas, both verbally and in writing. This includes clarity, conciseness, and the ability to articulate thoughts and concepts. Good communication skills help students collaborate with colleagues, interact with clients, and present their work effectively. Students can enhance their communication skills through practice, participating in group discussions, public speaking events, and writing assignments.
3. Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking: Students should develop analytical skills, logical reasoning, and the ability to approach challenges with a systematic mindset. This involves identifying problems, evaluating alternatives, making decisions, and implementing solutions. Engaging in problem-solving exercises, case studies, and participating in research projects can significantly enhance these skills.
4. Adaptability and Learning Agility: Students should demonstrate their ability to embrace change, be open to learning, and adapt to new technologies or work environments. Participating in workshops, industry events, and seeking exposure to diverse experiences can help students develop adaptability and learning agility.
5. Teamwork and Interpersonal Skills: Students should develop interpersonal skills such as empathy, active listening, conflict resolution, and the ability to work towards common goals. Demonstrating teamwork and leadership abilities is essential during group projects or extracurricular activities. Engaging in team-based projects, volunteer work, and student organizations can provide opportunities to develop and showcase these skills.
6. Professionalism and Work Ethic: This is something that employers often have trouble with, because they cannot clearly assess a future employee on this criteria until they actually start working. Hence, employers expect students to display professionalism, integrity, and a strong work ethic. This includes being punctual, responsible, dependable, and maintaining a positive attitude. Students should demonstrate a willingness to take initiative, meet deadlines, and go the extra mile to deliver high-quality work. Cultivating professionalism and work ethic can be achieved through internships, part-time jobs, or even by taking up responsibilities in student organizations.
7. Industry Knowledge and Awareness: Students should stay updated with the latest advancements, emerging technologies, market dynamics, and industry best practices. Keeping up with industry publications, attending industry conferences, and engaging with industry professionals through networking can help students stay informed and build industry knowledge.
8. Internship and Practical Experience: Students should actively seek opportunities to gain real-world experience and apply their theoretical knowledge in practical settings. Internships not only provide exposure to the industry but also allow students to develop essential workplace skills and establish professional connections.
9. Networking and Interpersonal Relationships: Employers appreciate students who actively network, attend industry events, and leverage social platforms to connect with professionals in their field. Career advancement and job prospects might result from effective networking. Students should focus on building a strong professional network by reaching out to alumni, attending career fairs, and utilizing online platforms for networking purposes.
10. Continuous Learning and Professional Development: Employers value individuals who have a growth mindset and are committed to continuous learning. Students should demonstrate their willingness to engage in lifelong learning, pursue certifications, attend workshops or seminars, and stay updated with industry trends. Taking advantage of online courses, webinars, and professional development opportunities can showcase a student's dedication to self-improvement and adaptability to evolving industry demands.
(The author is Deputy Registrar, NMIMS, Hyderabad)