Developing the skills graduate employers really want – Decision making and problem solving

  January 11, 2017

Unfortunately when it comes to decision making and problem solving we're not talking about deciding what to wear or which on-campus party to attend, or how to make the world best prank work (although these are all excellent ways to practise these skills). For many graduates in the past, decision making and problem solving wasn't an issue in the early stages of their career as they weren't expected to have these skills in abundance and as a result most decisions were made for them, and they never had to solve problems themselves. The trouble was this led to a population of senior workers who couldn't solve a problem to save their life, so businesses started to think maybe graduates do need these skills. So if you're looking for a job now, you need to know how to make decisions and solve problems.

Luckily, you probably do this quite a lot at university already; aside from the more mundane aspects (e.g. deciding what to wear), there are some pretty good examples you'll already have under your belt. The first of which being choosing your degree course (and university), followed by choosing your final year project. These are two brilliant examples of decision making, because (hopefully) you would have gathered evidence, spoke to people with the necessary info, decided on the most pertinent information, and made a decision based on what you believed to be the right choice. That in a nutshell is decision making, and just like at work, you wouldn't have had all the information you needed, but you would have made calculated guesses when that happened.

Similarly for problem solving, who hasn't faced the challenge of an important piece of work that won't print, or has disappeared at the last minute? How did you handle that? You would have explored all the possible options available to you, and decided on a solution that would achieve the best outcome possible. Easy? No. Stressful? Yes. Worth it? Hopefully.

Decision making and problem solving is actually something we all do, all the time, some people are naturally better at it, often because they are able to handle the pressure better, but that's something that often comes with time and practise. When you are asked in an interview to think of a time you solved a problem, there will be many examples, you just need to put those decision making skills to use to pick one to use.

Show off your decision making and problem solving skills to a wide range of employers by completing your HappyWork profile, and leave them in no doubt that you're the person they need on their team.