Develop the Skills and Traits That Will Launch Your Career on the Right Trajectory
Looking to get your first job? Or perhaps you've managed to land an entry-level position and you’re wondering how to shine in your new role? Read on for the 5 top skills that every entry-level employee needs to both get a job and succeed once you're in it!
When I first got an entry-level position as a management consultant many years ago, I was thrilled at the prospect of working on a range of projects with top clients. However, I was also worried because the clients were much more experienced in their fields than me. A senior consultant then gave me some great advice, namely, I should focus on what I can do - work hard and build my skills.
As I discovered, the good news is many of the skills and mindsets that you need to progress in your entry-level role can be learned.
We spoke to managers and employers across different industries and here’s their best advice on the essential skills and traits that every entry-level employee should develop.
#1. Industry Knowledge
If you can show strong industry knowledge and an understanding of what makes a company successful in that sector, you can easily impress employers.
James Rice, Head of SEO at Practice Aptitude Tests, notes that “Knowledge of the industry [is] critical, as candidates need to show genuine interest in what might be their long-term career.” Thus, your understanding of industry developments will demonstrate to employers that you are motivated to build your career in their particular business sector.
This commercial and industry awareness will also help you progress quickly to senior positions. Brian Gawor, Vice President of Research at RNL, says, “When I am constantly hearing a new professional take things back to ‘why we are here,’ and relating what we are doing now to what we do for our clients, and where we want to go as an organisation - those people will move up quickly.”
#2. Willingness to Learn
Managers and recruiters do recognize that as an entry-level hire you might lack certain knowledge or skills. Hence, one of the top mindsets that managers want to see is a strong desire to learn.
“Willingness to learn is absolutely crucial since they have to get up to speed quickly,” Xavier Parkhouse-Parker, COO of Cambridge Future Tech, says. “This can be learning from the team and self-driven learning, which differ significantly from an academic environment. Think 'if I don't know or understand something' then 'what or how can I change that?'”
Hadeel Hijazieh, VP of Digital Marketing and Strategy at Ontario Chrysler Group, adds, “There is also nothing more an employer can ask for than someone who is humble enough and willing to admit they don’t know everything but strive every day to be the best at what they do.”
#3. Communication Skills
Excellent communication skills is a key skill that many employers look for in entry-level professionals.
Hijazieh emphasizes the importance of communication skills for entry-level employees, “Communication skills are an absolute essential. Someone that can express themselves and effectively impart their ideas with confidence is a valuable asset to my team,” Hijazieh says. “They can have a significant impact on several areas of an organization including teambuilding and productivity as they are viewed as being approachable and collaborative individuals.”
This sentiment is echoed by Carter Seuthe, VP of Content at Credit Summit. “One of the skills that's most important to me is an entry-level employee's ability to communicate,” Seuthe says. “They often don't teach this to college grads, or they don't teach it in a way that's actually useful. So anyone who already knows the importance of communication across all departments has a leg up over all other candidates.”
It’s therefore worth investing in communication skills training - your effective communication skills will help cement your reputation as a valued team member in any organization.
#4. IT and Digital Skills
The digital transformation of businesses across most industries means that all entry-level employees need to have a certain level of IT and digital literacy. This applies even to those who are not computer programmers!
Most companies would expect you to have at the minimum a basic level of computer literacy. As Michael Humphreys, founder & CEO of Z Grills Australia, says, “Most if not all companies use computers. It’ll be such a waste [of time] if a company would need to teach a new employee how to copy-paste texts and how to perform other simple computer skills.”
Nowadays, entry-level recruits are also expected to be internet savvy. “Being capable of creating a professional digital footprint is crucial,” Emily Wendzich of Gift and Giving says. “It's not just about updating a LinkedIn profile, it's also about being comfortable on social networks and having something professional to say there. You should be consistent on all channels. If one of your profiles isn't professional, recruiters have the right to be skeptical about what you'll do elsewhere. This is where I keep my professional coverage and this is where I'm more personal.”
As a bonus, the digital skills that you obtain in managing your social media profile could also be offered to your employer to help your organization manage their digital presence.
#5. Self-Management and Personal Effectiveness
An important attribute that employers would like to see in entry-level professionals is self-management skills. “Much like communication, self-management skills such as reliability, adaptability, and time management are the foundation to a well rounded employee that will be able to take on whatever asked of them,” says Hijazieh.
Personal effectiveness and self-management skills - just like technical skills - can be developed in training courses. Through personal development courses, you can strengthen your skills in areas including:
- Priority and workload management
- Time management
- Build personal impact and influence
- Conflict management