With so many fresh-faced graduates trying desperately to get their foot in the door of the banking industry, it can be hard to differentiate between the mass of applicants, each with similar qualifications and experience.
In order to identify which graduates are best suited for a role in banking, employers need to look beyond the basic requirements and try and ascertain whether or not the candidate has the skills that they need to succeed in the role they are applying for.
We have identified three necessary skills that employers are looking for in banking graduates. These are:
- Commercial skills
- Communication skills
- Time management skills.
Possessing commercial skills is an essential attribute for any individual in the banking sector, so it is crucial that graduate hires have basic commercial skills that they will be able to build on and strengthen over the course of their career.
Commercial skills are especially invaluable in the current financial climate, where a strong sense of awareness around market developments, emerging technologies, internal processes etc. can be the deciding factor in whether or not businesses succeed or fail.
We have previously spoken about the importance of commercial skills, and how they are crucial in helping employees to gain a deeper understanding of competitors, the financial implications of their decisions and prioritisation.
Communication skills are a must, no matter which sector of banking a graduate is going into. Employers should ensure that graduates have outstanding communication skills, so that they can communicate effectively with both clients and colleagues.
Giovanna Miceli, talent acquisition leader at Marsh & McLennan Companies, commented that: “In the finance sector, (graduates will be) be working with both finance professionals and people with limited financial knowledge.” This means that individuals looking to progress in this sector should be able to converse with colleagues in a professional manner, and also convey complex financial information to a wide range of clients.
An effective way for employers to gauge how good a graduate’s communication skills are is to take note of how they answer interview questions, and whether the way that they communicate is clear, friendly and professional.
Time management skills
Time management skills and organisation are inseparable skills, and if an individual has one, then they doubtless have the other. Both are key skills that employers should be looking for in graduate hires.
Time management is a particularly invaluable skill in banking, being such a competitive and fast-paced industry. Individuals will often have several tasks on their heads, each ranging in importance and duration. In order to be efficient, individuals need to possess time management skills that allow them to organise their workload so they can reach their deadlines and goals.
We have discussed previously how important time management can be in banking, not only for better organisation of workload, but also for the improved wellbeing of employees. Poor time management skills can add hours onto an individual's day due to unproductive activities and lack of prioritisation, which can pile undue stress and pressure onto employees. This makes time management an incredibly important skill, which is why employers look for banking graduates who already have an innate ability to organise their schedule effectively.
Employers in the banking sector are inherently looking for graduate hires to show that they possess a wide range of skills, including communication, time management and commercial awareness, as these will underpin the day to day tasks of the entire workforce.
However, regardless of whether or not a new hire displays these skills, it is important for their progression that they are given continual support in learning how to hone them. This is where graduate training programmes come in.