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nose to the grindstone
watching the news
transferable skills
skills and abilities
communication skills
Why Keeping Your Nose To The Grindstone Is Not Always The Best Strategy
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Why Keeping Your Nose to the Grindstone is Not Always the Best Strategy

If you're currently an undergraduate at university in the UK, you're probably keeping your nose to the grindstone and studying hard, hoping that the economic situation in the UK and elsewhere will improve by the time you graduate and there will be a suitable job to match your skills and abilities.

In the past year there has been little to cheer about for graduates trying to find positions in the distinctly shaky job market. Graduate schemes have been cut by many organisations and the poor economic situation across the country means that many graduates are having to take jobs for which they are well over qualified for.

So if you’ve been watching the news you may well have decided that in order to get a job when you graduate, you need to keep your head down and work really hard to obtain the best degree you possibly can. You may have even sacrificed some of the other parts of university life in order to ensure that your grades are always outstanding.

You may well feel that you’ve chosen the best strategy to ensure your future success in the job market. Getting a good grade and showing that you’re a hard worker should give you an edge over other candidates shouldn’t it?

But will it?

Although it makes sense to work hard and get the best grades you can, when it comes to the job market employers are looking for well rounded graduates with transferable skills and not just those with a good degree.

However, sometimes it is difficult to know exactly what employers are looking for. Different companies or different industries or sectors may use the same word, but it may mean something entirely different.

Communication skills is a common term for organisations to use but it will mean something very different to a publisher, to an accountant or to staff of a local authority.

So how do you increase your chances of employability?

Well according to the 1995 report by the Association of Graduate Recruiters entitled Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century, the most important skills you can have is self-reliance skills including, confidence skills, self-promotion skills, self-awareness, action planning skills, etc which will ensure that you are able to manage your own continuous professional development and learning through the different stages of your career. You will also need specialist skills, generalist skills (IT, finance and basic accounting, written communication) and connected skills ( eg negotiating skills, networking skills and presentation skills)

It’s really important that you do everything you can to ensure that you are a well-rounded graduate.


So when you’re tempted to keep your nose firmly to the grindstone think again. It’s important that you don’t sacrifice other opportunities to learn and acquire skills that will make you more employable. I’m not for one moment suggesting that you shouldn’t work hard, but the learning you'll do over your three or four years at university, won’t just come from your degree studies.

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