Career Advice for Students
12th July 2022 | Blog
Career advice is plentiful for anyone googling the subject, but that advice isn’t always helpful. Earlier this year our Client Services Director Matt Beedle was invited to give a career advice lecture at EPFL University in Lausanne, Switzerland as part of their innovator forum week.
EPFL is one of the top life sciences universities in Europe and many of its graduates make it into senior-level roles across many industries.
Matt didn’t give your normal career advice such as how to apply for jobs, how to write a CV, how to prepare for an interview, and so on.
His main piece of advice was, instead:
If you want to do well in your career, work on your people skills.
The following is a summary of his lecture on this topic. If you want to watch the full lecture, scroll to the bottom to watch his video.
Matt showed, with research gathered from over 1000 pieces of interview feedback from the employer’s side, that the most common reason for rejection (60%) of candidates was communication skills, motivation, and personality. This essentially comes down to poor people skills.
This also fits the narrative that we often see the most successful people in the industry being people who can lead and manage people.
Hence if you really want to make more money in your career and have more career options, you should be working on your social skills.
Are people skills innate?
The first myth about people skills is that they are just something you have or you do not. Some people do have an advantage, largely down to upbringing or genetics, but, ultimately anyone can improve their social skills. As with any skill, it gets better with practice and study.
Are good people skills only for extroverts?
This is the second myth on the subject and according to Matt, it’s simply not true, one of the most fundamental aspects of people skills is the ability to listen. Listening will win you more friends and gain you more influence than speaking loud and proud.
“Personally I hate people being labelled extrovert/introvert as I’ve seen too many people move between these two areas. But that aside, anyone can improve their ability to influence as the main skill is listening,” he told the students.
How can you improve your social skills?
Here are Matt’s quick steps to improving:
1. Understand how improving your social/people skills will improve your life. Some of the clear benefits are better relationships, better career options, higher salaries and better quality of life.
2. Be aware of your people skills. You may think you are already strong here but are you really, or is that just your ego talking? Do you really listen to people? Do you pay genuine interest to people? Do people really look up to you?
3. Practise. Like any skill (going to the gym, coding, maths, languages etc) you will only improve if you practise. This is scary for many as it will put you out of your comfort zone.