Employment skills (sometimes called 'soft' skills) refer to a set of transfer skills and important personal qualities that are highly valued by employers and are essential for effective work. Unlike professional or technical skills, these employment skills are inherent in nature, rather than job-specific, and are common in all job roles and workplaces across all industries - for example, communication and team work.
Academic qualifications and good marks are not the only way to successfully participate in university. You should also gain experience to improve your soft skills, as this experience will provide you examples of your employability skills on your job application.
While at University:
- Make the most of opportunities within your studies to develop employability skills eg: through group project work, presentations, student exchange programs, internship subjects, industry and community project units and mentoring programs.
- Get involved in extracurricular activities such as clubs and societies, sport, public speaking, special interest groups, or community activities, as these experiences will also provide you with evidence of skills for your job applications.
- Gain work experience through internships and vacation work, voluntary work for not-for-profit organisations, casual work and paid part-time work relevant to your field where possible.
- Maintain a record (or portfolio) of your work experiences, volunteering roles, and activities. Make a note of skills gained and qualities demonstrated. Gather evidence of achievements and outcomes, including positive comments made by supervisors, peers and customers, and include these in your portfolio.
Why identify your employability skills?
Knowing how to speak about your skills is an important skill in itself! Incorporate relevant examples of your skills into job applications and interviews to increase your chances of success when applying for jobs.
Taking the time to identify your employability skills can help you to:
- Identify skill gaps and plan your skill development to build a portfolio of skills valued by employers
- Recognise the value of your skills and build self-confidence
- Write effective job applications including resumes, cover letters and selection criteria responses
- Perform well in behavioural interview situations by clearly articulating skills you can bring to the job.
How to spot your employability skills
- Start by listing all the activities you have been involved in through study, work and extracurricular opportunities.If your studies involved work experience, clinical placements, internships or field work, draw examples from these experiences. These may include ‘devising a business plan’, ‘developing a site survey’ or ‘conducting and analysing client evaluations’.
- Remember to also include skills developed via research, projects and assignments undertaken during your studies.Your work and extracurricular activities can also offer practical examples of employability skills such as training staff, event organisation, team sports and customer service skills.
- For each activity, list the responsibilities you had, the skills you used and qualities you demonstrated. Be specific and avoid vague or general claims to skills.
- Use this information to compile a list of the employability skills you have developed that are relevant to your field of expertise.
Examples of employability skills
The core skills and traits needed in nearly every job. These are the general skills that make someone desirable to an organization. Hiring managers almost always look for employees with these skills. Some of the main employability skills are:
- Communication skills
- Teamwork skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Initiative and enterprise skills
- Planning and organisational skills
- Ability to learn and adapt
- Technology skills
- Self-management skills
- Valuing diversity and difference
- Negotiation skills
How to Make Your Skills Stand Out
Add Skills to your Resume: The right keywords can let employers know that you have the employability skills they seek, and they can increase the likelihood of your application being noticed when applying electronically.
Highlight Skills in your Cover Letter:Apply the same care to include employability keywords in your cover letter.
Use Skill Words in your Job Interview: In your interview, employers expect you to be able to share real-life examples of when you used one or more of the skills listed above.
These skills would enable all the employees to function better in their professional life, therefore should be developed at an early stage.