By Louise Loxton - Head of Department, Employer Relationships

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Transferable skills – making the most of every experience

Your weekly blog on the whats, whys and hows of amazing Employability.

What to do 

Employability is all about maximising your potential. When selling yourself to a future employer, think about what you have learned from some recent work experience, study activity, or even from a hobby or outside interest - and how you can use (“transfer”) what you have learned to show evidence of the skills employers are looking for. 

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network “STEMNET” has defined the Top Ten Employability Skills as being: 

  1. Communication and interpersonal skills
  2. Problem-solving skills
  3. Using your initiative and being self-motivated
  4. Working under pressure and to deadlines
  5. Organisational skills
  6. Team working
  7. Ability to learn and adapt
  8. Numeracy
  9. Valuing diversity and difference
  10. Negotiation skills 

How to do it

Here are some ways to evidence the skills listed above if you are a student:

1) Clubs and Societies are good for honing your communication skills.

Consider: Are you a good listener? Can you express your opinions clearly? Do you get on well with other people?

2) Think about when you last used your knowledge from different areas to solve a problem.

You need to be able to show how you broke down a task into smaller parts and identified key issues and possible solutions.

3) Consider: Have you taken the lead in a situation without being asked? Have you ever started your own project based on an idea you had? 

4) Give examples of good planning to handle exam deadlines, for example.

Give details of any work projects at college that had a timescale and how you managed this.

5) Think of when you finished a task ahead of the deadline set.

Consider: How well do you organize your time on a daily basis?

6) Have you played any team sport, or are you in any clubs where you work together with others to achieve a common goal?

Consider: Do you work well with others from different backgrounds and with different levels of expertise? 

7) Give examples of how you have learned from any mistakes you made in your work and how you then acted on your tutor’s comments and feedback. 

Consider: Have you ever been involved in a creative project where you had to modify what you made in order to improve it?

8) Think of when you have used data and calculations in your work. 

Consider: Have you ever taken part in a project where you had to calculate the cost of some commodities or services?

9) Think of activities you have taken part in together with others who were different from you in terms of age, gender, nationality, and race.

10) Think about when you have reached agreement with your classmates about who will do what and when etc. Did you achieve a win-win situation? 

In conclusion

You really do have skills you can evidence by thinking more broadly about your experiences. If you can find at least one example for each category above you will be well on your way to convincing an employer of your abilities and potential.