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What can I offer to employers?

Employability skills are essential when looking for jobs. You might be pleasantly surprised how many of these skills you actually have to offer.

When you are looking for jobs, you will need to identify your own particular strengths, skills and aptitudes. This is particularly important when you come to actually writing that job application, when you will need to look closely at the skills listed in the job description and personal specification to identify which of them you have and which you need to work on.

Assess your employability skills

You can do this by carrying out a skills assessment. There are a number of online versions available, and your careers service can point you in the right direction. These tools can identify your strengths and skills and will also suggest graduate jobs and careers that suit you. Your careers adviser can help interpret your findings and advise you on your next steps towards applications and interviews.

What are your transferable skills?

You may not think at first that you have all the knowledge that recruiters are looking for, but if you can identify your ‘transferable skills’ you could be pleasantly surprised. ‘Transferable skills’ refers to the skills you have developed through all your experiences – not just in jobs – which will be of value in the workplace. This experience could come from activities such as part-time jobs, projects, casual work, work placements, voluntary work, sport, or from your home life, hobbies and interests. These experiences will have given you opportunities, for example, to work with others, take a leadership role or to show that you can be committed and conscientious.

The key skills that are most valuable when applying for a graduate job fall under four broad headings:

  • Self-reliance skills which demonstrate that you can work independently.
    People skills or interpersonal skills such as communication, team working and leadership.
  • General employability skills that can be used in any situation (for example, problem solving, commitment).
  • Specialist skills gained through your degree programme.

The value of work experience

Work experience can help you gain these key employability skills, along with the professional experience that many careers require. Recruiters want employees who can show that they have the experience to be flexible, learn quickly and cope with change. You can prove that you have these skills if you can draw on example situations, such as experiences of when you worked in a team and on your own initiative.

If, though, you don’t have the opportunity to go on a work placement then there are a number of other ways that you can gain a wide range of transferable skills. For example, you could undertake voluntary work, get part-time jobs, participate in sports or get involved in the wide range of campus activities offered by your Students’ Union, clubs and societies. Your Students’ Union may also be involved in community projects which develop links between students and local people and this can also give you valuable experience.