Employability skills are the strengths, abilities and attributes which employers look for when recruiting. Your ability to articulate these skills will help to ensure success when applying for opportunities.
You should be able to identify these skills and draw on a range of experiences gained within your studies, as well as experience gained outside of your degree.
These skills should be evident on both your CV and your LinkedIn profile.
Your Course – Your degree offers the opportunity for you to gain both practical skills in relation to your chosen subject, as well as transferable skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication skills. Think about specific modules you have studied or projects that you have taken part in and create a list of the types of skills you’ve developed through this.
Work Experience – All experience matters! This includes part-time jobs, summer placements, work shadowing and internships. Even if these jobs/experiences are not directly related to what you are applying for, you will have gained transferable skills which will be very attractive to employers. Keeping a log of your achievements and skills you develop can help you when writing job applications in the future.
Extra-Curricular Activities – Employers love to hear about what else you do. Having good academics and some work experience is great, but let your personality shine through via extra-curricular activities. Getting involved in societies, sports and volunteering can offer a great way to build up your experience. You can gain recognition for completing extra-curricular activities by completing the Futures Skills Award, this includes any activities you are already involved in, or something new, and is a great addition to your CV.
Further information: ‘Make the most of your time at University’ career guide.
Creating a list of the skills that you have gained from your degree, work experience and any extra-curricular activities is a worthwhile task when it comes to evidencing your abilities in a job application.
Step 1: Write a list of your past experience, including work experience, any voluntary work, societies and hobbies. Include your degree and key projects or modules you have studied.
Step 2: Create a list of the tasks associated with each role or project on your list.
Step 3: Tasks lead to skills. Look over the list you have created. What were your achievements? What skills did you learn from completing these tasks? Write examples using the STAR format:
Situation – Set the scene
Task - Briefly explain what it is that you had to do
Action - What action did you specifically take i.e. what you did; why you did it; how you did it; what skills you used.
Result - What was the outcome?
Here’s an example (using STAR) which demonstrates both good customer service and communication skills:
S - During my summer internship in 2018, I was responsible for managing the company’s customer relations, which included handling customer queries and complaints.
T - On one occasion, a customer contacted our service centre as an email they had sent had not yet been responded to by the company. As I was dealing with this customer by phone, quick thinking and a personable telephone manner were essential.
A - I discussed the situation with the customer and explained that we had a company policy of answering all email communications within a 48 hour period. I was able to resolve her initial query, so that at the end of the call she felt satisfied that all of her concerns had been answered.
R - As a result, the client not only continued to order from us, but also added positive customer service feedback to our website.
Tailoring your application to each job that you apply for is essential. You need to show the employer that you have taken the time to research the company and the role, and that you are the best fit. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have the skills that the company is looking for.
Essential documents: The Job Description & Person Specification for the role that you are applying for.
The job description will give you a good indication of what the role is about, and the criteria in the person specification will set out their ideal candidate. You should think of examples using STAR which match up with the types of skills the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate.
Use their lingo! They say ‘client’, you say ‘client’. They talk about ‘customer focus’, you should too.
If you are applying for a role which is directly related to your degree, highlight some of the key modules which most relate to the role you are applying for, or a particular project that helps you to demonstrate any specialist knowledge and skills you have gained.
If you are applying for part-time work, or a role that is not directly linked to the subject you have studied, you may want to focus more on the transferable skills you gained, such as teamwork, communication and leadership skills.
You may wish to showcase yourself in a more innovative and visual way by creating an online or e-portfolio. Check out these e portfolio options:
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