It's not all just about your job history: extracurricular activities and "soft skills" can make a difference when looking for a job in Australia.
When looking for the best employees, organisations look at candidates who have better “soft skills,” such as effective listening, effective communication and resilience. Moreover, companies are hiring optimistic candidates that tend to do extracurricular activities or play sports.
In an interview with SBS Spanish, John Shields, Professor of Human Resource Management and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney's Business School, provides a comprehensive description of the qualities or attributes that big companies tend to look for in employees.
According to Professor Shields, when employees use the term "soft skills," they mean performance-related capabilities, which are not trainable in a technical sense, but rather performance capabilities that are deeper within the person linked to emotion and self control.
Professor Shields advises that the capabilities or "soft skills" that employers are looking for in graduates and are critical for the career success are the following:
1. Effective listening skills
This ability helps provide better and more supported opinions and make better decisions when choosing the best option in a business case.
2. Effective communication with others
"Developing inter-personal relationships is critical for companies" to ensure an effective integration with the group and therefore positive outcomes for the company.
3. Effective Time Management
Have the ability to complete a task satisfactorily in the agreed time.
4. Sense of personal professional integrity
Have a sense of responsibility for the task performed or the position that is being performed.
5. Openness to experience
"New learning opportunities and moving outside of the comfort zone. For example: Looking for an exchange with other universities around the world and working overseas outside the home country."
6. Critical Thinking
The "intellectual process" of analysing information generated by experience as a behaviour guide.
Learn from the events of the past and move on.
8. Self-awareness and aware of others
Involves self-knowledge regarding the own identity and values. Moreover, understanding your "own emotional chemistry" and be aware of emotions of others.
9. Composure in the workplace
Maintaining calm inside the workplace when emergencies or problems arise.
Professor Shields says that one of the criticisms that employers have raised in the past is that "graduates are technically competent […] but they are not particularly good at managing interpersonal relations in a professional context or relations with clients."
The researcher highlights that many organisations now also use social events as part of the hiring process to see which of the individuals they might be considering hiring, are capable of managing interactions with strangers or if they can conduct a conversation about world events in a respectful and professional way that may expand their knowledge. For example, "Accounting students might by asked to talk about the Trump presidency, robotics or even Artificial Intelligence (AI)".
10 Extracurricular activities can make a difference when looking for a job
Professor Shields describes characteristics that employers look for in a resume: "A resume that is written perfectly in English, concise and disciplined, well-structured and particularly look at extracurricular activities such as sports, volunteer opportunities and semesters studied abroad."
Professor Shields says that employers are looking for what the student or candidate has done extracurricular-wise. "What else they have done apart from their degree?” he says. According to professor Shields organisations are looking for rounded personalities because that means that the candidate has energy, is motivated and open, is likely to be self-disciplined and therefore they are able to communicate perfectly and ready to take challenges.