Manchester Metropolitan University

On this page you’ll find all the resources and activities to support your development into highly employable Early Career Professionals.

You – the Early Career Professional.

In choosing a course at Manchester Met Business School, we think you’re already acting like a professional person – thinking ahead to the professional career you’ll have after graduation and making well-informed decisions to support this. This is why we recognise you as an Early Career Professional, not just a student, from the moment you enrol with us until you graduate.

This means we promise to:

What is an Early Career Professional?

This means you (of course!) But we also use this name to refer to a framework of the skills which employers expect all graduates to have, and which you will want to have developed for yourself by the time you graduate.

It is designed to help you with your professional development by identifying the four main skills areas employers expect - commercial and professional awareness, critical thinking, effective communication and learning how to demonstrate your values – so that you are aware of them and can plan to acquire them through your studies and activities outside university.

To find out about these skills that make up becoming an early career professional, see the skills development framework below. 

How was the Early Career Professional framework developed?

All universities need a framework like this to help them to design courses which will support students in their professional development.

We designed our framework by consulting all the most up-to-date academic research as well as what employers and leading professional bodies told us they were looking for in our graduates. The finished framework is useful because it brings all the detailed guidance available together in a form which is simple enough to illustrate and use.

Attributes valued by employers

A key source used to create the framework was what employers themselves told us they needed and valued in new graduates.

Time Management and Organisation

Can you prioritise tasks and meet deadlines? Are you able to set clear goals and review your progress to ensure tasks are completed?

How might you develop this skill?

  • Through managing conflicting academic deadlines or creating a revision plan before exams
  • Through managing university assignments alongside work and personal commitments or social life
  • Through organising a social, charity or sporting event
  • Through planning a gap year or travelling experience

You can also improve your professionalism skills by visiting our professional development page and looking at ‘Commercial & Professional Awareness’


The ability to co-operate, respect others, contribute ideas effectively, being assertive rather than passive or aggressive. Learning from constructive criticism and providing positive constructive feedback to others.

How might you develop this skill?

  • Through group project work as part of your course
  • Through involvement in team sports, societies or clubs
  • Through work experiences where you worked in a group setting
  • Even sharing a house with fellow students can help you gain this skill

The Belbin Test identifies the following team roles. Think about which matches the role you tend to play when working in a team:

  • Plant. Creative, imaginative, unorthodox, solves difficult problems.
  • Resource Investigator. Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities, develops contacts.
  • Co-ordinator. Mature, confident, a good chairperson. Clarifies goals, promotes decision making, delegates well.
  • Shaper. Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. The drive and courage to overcome obstacles.
  • Monitor Evaluator. Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options, judges accurately.
  • Teamworker. Co-operative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens, builds, averts friction.
  • Implementer. Disciplined, reliable, conservative and efficient. Turns ideas into practical actions.
  • Completer Finisher. Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors and omissions, delivers on time.
  • Specialist. Single-minded, self-starting, dedicated. Provides knowledge and skills.

You can also improve your collaborative skills by visiting our professional development page and looking at ‘Communicating Effectively’

Leadership Skills

Can you take the initiative, can you set objectives while organising and motivating others?

How might you develop this skill?

  • Through becoming a mentor or a coach, or through teaching/training others – e.g. music, sport, at work
  • By taking charge of a piece of group work
  • Any situation that involves you taking charge and making decisions for a group of people- think about holidays you’ve arranged, or work experiences where you have led a group.

*the only real way to learn leadership is by doing it*

You can also improve your collaborative skills by visiting our professional development page and looking at ‘Communicating Effectively’.

Commercial Awareness

Commercial awareness is about having interest in business and an understanding of the wider environment in which an organisation operates: its customers, competitors and suppliers.
When you apply for any job you need to be able to say why you applied to the organisation, what you know about them and how you can contribute. Building your commercial awareness will enable you to answer these questions more effectively and will also help you to identify your longer term goals and career interests.

How might you develop this skill?

  • By attending industry talks and employer networking events, either through your course or through Careers and Employability events.
  • Through keeping up to date with industry news and current issues. Use LinkedIn and Twitter to follow employers and use the Job Sectors page on Prospects as a starting point.
  • Through exploring an organisations website and media presence before you apply for a role with them.
  • Through undertaking work shadowing and work experience opportunities

You can also improve on this by visiting the ‘Commercial & Professional Awareness’ page.

Global Awareness

The ability to understand different cultures and ‘global’ communication skills.

How might you develop this skill?

  • Develop unfamiliar language skills and make your CV stand out through Uniwide languages
  • Explore opportunities abroad
  • engage with cultural activities within Manchester Met and across Manchester. Explore SU societies
  • Use Target Jobs to gain insights into different countries cultures, economic climates and employment opportunities.

Problem Solving and Analytical Skills

The ability to analyse facts and situations, applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions. Any future job will bring problems to be faced. Do you have the personal resilience to handle challenges, think for yourself and implement change?

How might you develop this skill.

  • Through coming up with new ideas to improve or streamline a process at work
  • By improving your negotiating skills by becoming a course representative
  • Through puzzles such as cross words, Sudoku, chess and also computer games
  • Through evaluating sources of information for essays at university
  • Through thinking of fundraising ideas and charity events

You can also improve your problem-solving ability by visiting our ‘Thinking Critically’ page.

Written and Verbal Communication

The ability to get your point across effectively, using persuasion and influencing skills. Can you adapt your style for different audiences, contexts and media e.g. reports, social media, professional emails? When communicating verbally are you able to present yourself positively and build rapport with different audiences. Can you listen well and question effectively?

How might you develop this skill?

  • Through work experience where you might need to liaise with colleagues and managers either face to face, over the phone or by email, or build and maintain relationships with customers and clients.
  • Think about times you might need to persuade a customer to buy something, or handle a client complaint without losing business.
  • Through presentations delivered as part of your course and contributions to seminars
  • Through written assignments as part of your course

You can also improve your communication and literacy skills by visiting our ‘Communicating Effectively’ page.


The ability to manage everyday mathematical problems with confidence

How might you develop this skill?

  • Practising mental arithmetic e.g. adding up shopping or calculating change
  • Working out budgets e.g. being treasurer of a university society
  • Making sense of graphs, charts and statistical data.

IT Skills

The ability to use basic IT software and packages such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as manage files. Many job adverts will ask for these basic skills- how confident are you with yours?

How might you develop this skill?

  • Using media such as PowerPoint and Prezi to deliver presentations
  • Using spreadsheets for presenting data and producing graphs (or managing your own finances)
  • Using specialist software packages during work experience or in a part time job
  • Designing a website, learning to code and use basic HTML
  • Using social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for networking and job hunting
  • Use free 'Lynda' online training recourses to develop your understanding of packages you are less confident with

You can also improve your ICT skills by visiting our ‘Communicating Effectively’ page.