The NCUB has asked me to write another blog to help undergraduates get ready for the workplace.


The job market is highly competitive so you need to know what employers are looking for. Use your time at university wisely and strengthen your skills and personal qualities. Ultimately, this will make you employable.


I asked friend and top HR professional, Ray Dance of Barthropp Career Consultants for his thoughts. As a seasoned Career Management Fellow, he suggests these principal professional skills required by employers of graduates:


Paid work experience: get relevant work experience for your career path. After a CV session, one of my students decided to quit her part time bar work in favour of gallery invigilation at The Arnolfini in Bristol. She had placed herself right at the heart of the local arts scene, meeting all the right people, getting hands-on experience of arts administration, as well as an understanding of curating.


Voluntary work experience: I have worked with many charities through the years. They are crying out for young, energetic, enthusiastic volunteers. You could offer a helping hand at a trade show and demonstrate that you are a confident, hard-working and presentable communicator. If you want to make a difference in the charity sector long term, show your passion and initiative by setting up fundraising events. Link up with events like The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan. Charities love to hear about funds raised. If you have a charity close to heart, show that you care – like, follow, engage, retweet and share.


Willingness to adapt: can you respond positively to change? Businesses need to find resilient employees who can learn fast, fit in and even jump from one country to the next without getting stressed. Make sure that you are not ‘fixed’, that you can listen to others and that you are teachable and open to being developed.


Ability to communicate effectively, both oral and written: let’s face it, you may struggle to get a decent job without good communication! It’s not enough to say that you are a strong communicator – you need to provide evidence. Here are some ideas: start a blog and share your knowledge; write for a university publication; become a student ambassador or union representative; head up a society or club and write reports and press releases about activities; join the debating society; or volunteer to give talks to promote your course to local sixth form colleges.


Initiative: use your free time at university to stretch your imagination on your own projects. Design something that solves a problem. Ask your tutors and research the many awards in your sector. Brunel University now boasts two winners of James Dyson’s Design award. Get a standout CV with awards. If there’s an organisation you want to work for, show initiative - follow, like and engage. Don’t be shy!


Interest and enthusiasm: your body language says it all. I love working with undergraduates who ask questions, queue to talk at the end of sessions, and volunteer to help. They get noticed because they’re enthusiastic. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am always on the lookout for well-mannered students who can work with others to make things happen.

You won’t be surprised to learn that next on Ray’s list come confidence, teamwork, organisation, time management, problem solving and commercial awareness.


In the wise words of the late Nelson Mandela: ‘We must use time wisely and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right.’ ©Tessa Webb, October 2014