In the third part of our jargon busting blogs we're going to look at just what the hell are team working skills. We've looked and picked apart what the hell a Personal Brand is and managed to enlighten you on what employers want to see and hear when they look for commercial awareness, but this week we're looking at Team working skills, what do they mean? What are they and what the hell do employers want to see for you to prove them.
Well in the immortal words of Shaun, Of The Dead fame, "there is no I in Team, but there is an I in Meat Pie…"
Employers are always asking for team working skills, there are very few jobs, never mind graduate jobs, that do not require team working skills. Whether it is referred to as being team working skills, evidence of team work or the shuddering phrase "a team player", they all want it and you need something in the bank to show you've got it. The criteria is often included on job specifications and while it might seem like a relatively oblique concept on first inspection, there are several ways the desire for " team working skills" can be satisfied.
What are Team working skills?
To understand what employers are really after and how you can tick the box for this frequent requirement, it is important to understand the different sides to this skill. Before we get stuck into the finer details of what team working skills are, there is just one myth that needs to be expelled before we continue.
The Myth: Team working skills do not, I repeat do not, just refer to times you've led a team. This is not time for budding apprentice-contestants or dictators in disguise. There are many more sides to being a good "team player" than the ability to lead. This is not what employers want to see and nor is something that has you covered when it comes to this requirement.
Anyway where were we…? The first thing employers look for when considering if you the candidate have appropriate team working skills is the ability to give and take, consider and compromise. This is a fundamental component of what team working skills are. Team workers are not bolshie know-it-alls with it being their way or the high way, but they are people who literally work as a team and consider other people's ideas and reach conclusions collectively. This might sound exceedingly patronising, but you will be surprised by the amount of graduates that fall down at this very hurdle.
While it is important to know that graduates that come across as Stalin reincarnate might not be the most successful, it is important to note that shrinking violets don't fare much better. Graduates need to be aware that they need to contribute to the pot and pitch in their worth. There is no way that those who coast along for the easy ride without either contributing or helping reach decisions will be as successful The Glorious Leader.
Another key aspect of team working skills and team work in general is diplomacy. While, this does not stretch to the levels of realpolitik, showing a little bit of tact and diplomacy can vastly improve your chances of impressing employers with your team working skills. For example, being hyper critical or petrified of someone taking something personally, is not constructive for team work, rather providing "constructive criticism" and being tactful when someone suggests a terrible idea is the way to show your team working skills.
This taps into the idea of communication being and fundamental part of working and team working. Being able to communicate with anyone from fellow graduates right up to the Big Cheeses at a company will contribute to having great team working skills.
How to show you've got team working skills…
So you've not got a rough idea of what graduate employers are looking for, but how do you go about showing theses. Team working skills are often qualified during the application process in one of two ways, sometimes both. As a skill or concept it is only really proved to employers through actions and interactions, a type of approach rather than a certificate if you will. So the first and most common way that employers will ask you for an example of when you've worked in a team. This is gold dust for the sporty types as ticks both boxes of a team state of mind and extracurricular activities, unless it's the darts team you were referring too. Other examples that you could provide would be Society committees or, as a last resort or supplementary example, group work you were required to do during your degree in seminars.
If the interviewer is feeling really dastardly they might ask you more specifically an occasion where your team working skills and diplomacy was really tested. They could ask you a question along the lines of "Could you tell us a time when you made a decision in a team that went against the grain of some of the team members?" While this is just a poorly disguised trap, you must approach it in a careful way, making sure to indicate discussions took place and compromises were at least considered if not implemented.
The other way in which employers might size up how well you work in a team and your team working skills is at an Assessment centre. These types of assessments have been described as Hunger Games-esque, but Group exercises at assessment places are common and they are not usually too concerned at outcome of your efforts but rather the way you reached it. No doubt the recruitment team will be floating around, eavesdropping on the groups so be sure to be seen to be taking part, contributing, listening and helping on difficult decisions that might need to be made.
Just because you're up at an assessment centre and you're technically "competing" for places, don't be that person. Don't be the person who is being snide or trying to score points, it does happen and if caught out by employers you might as well get your coat there and then. Plus, there are usually more than one position open.
Team working skills are not complicated and nor are they difficult to show. To be successful in exhibiting these key skills you just need to be a confident communicator, positive and willing to give, take and compromise for the team.