By Louise Loxton - Head of Department, Employer Relationships

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Amazing Skills: What you need and why

If you’re unsure about what future career you want, it’s a good idea in the meantime to think about gaining a set of skills that you can apply to any job, workplace and task.

Auditing your skills 

Firstly, you need to assess what skills you have got and which areas you still need to work on. The best way to do this is by completing a “skills scan” – an analysis of your current skillset which identifies your strengths and weaknesses. This can be completed again whenever you have done something for your employability, such as work experience, to help you keep track of what skills you have improved or still need to develop.
Ask an employability tutor to go through this with you if you need support. If you have a mentor, this is also something you can discuss with them and take their advice on. Being able to identify and reflect on what you are doing for your own personal and professional development will stand you in good stead in job interviews. 

Building your skills 

Take every opportunity to build your skills. It’s not just about formal learning at College or doing Continuous Professional Development at work. Every time you engage with another person, for example, you are practising your communication skills. Reading books in your free time will help improve your literacy. Doing calculations in everyday life, such as budgeting, will boost your numeracy

Think about your hobbies and what skills you are developing through them. Do you belong to a club or organisation where you can step out of your comfort zone and lead an activity? Or help them with their social media and digital presence? This is not just skills-building, it’s also great for your CV.  

Preparing for your future

Recruitment specialist Reed UK says that the five CV skills employers look for in every jobseeker are:

  • Commercial awareness (understanding the market, business and product)
  • Teamwork skills
  • Communication skills
  • Organisation skills 
  • Job-related skills (e.g. technical skills)

The Manchester Work and Skills Strategy 2015-20 has identified four “fastest growing sectors” over the next ten years in terms of jobs: 

  • Construction (including civil engineering)
  • Cultural, creative and digital
  • Business, financial and professional services
  • Science and Research & Development (excluding manufacturing)

Find out what jobs people do in these sectors and think about what skills are needed. The Manchester College’s Careers and Welfare Team will be able to give you some helpful advice on this. Doing work experience with companies in these areas will also give you valuable insight into what people do in the sector and help you make some contacts for the future.  

Finally, take this good advice from BBC journalist Mishal Husain:

Focus on being the most effective, engaged, eager-to-learn version of yourself, always absorbing new information because you never know where and when you might need it.