Section 4 - Skills audit Presentation

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1 Section 4 - Skills audit Presentation In the world of graduate recruitment, skills are mentioned a lot. They can be referred to as employability skills, graduate skills or transferable skills, but these are all different names for the same thing. To put it in its simplest terms, transferable skills are the attributes that you have which can be applied in different work situations. For example, if you are able to prioritise your exam revision successfully, then you should be able to prioritise the things you needed to do at work too. The following slides will look at some of these transferable skills in more detail, looking at what each skill entails, where you would use each skill and where you may have already been demonstrating these skills. Communication is a vital skill. This covers all areas of communication, such as speaking to people in meetings, making telephone calls or writing up reports to keep colleagues up to date.

2 Some graduate employers want to ensure that you are able to find the key points and facts in a situation and are able to then pass these on in a concise way to your colleagues or to customers. This can range from taking minutes at meetings to giving presentations to the board, to selling a new product line to a customer. During your degree you are likely to have developed your communication skills by way of writing up reports, essays and case studies, by writing out detailed answers to examination questions, by giving presentations to your peers, by getting involved in seminars and by taking a role in running clubs and societies. Team-working, as stated above, is essential for jobs where you are based in an office with other people. Team-working can range from just being able to get along with others in the group, to being able to motivate and lead the group if appropriate. Team-working is all about balance and supporting each other. For example in a large project such as a product launch, people from different departments (development, marketing, management etc) may need to work together, with the work each does all being vital to the end result. At university you may have done some of your course work in small groups. If you met up with a group of friends to go through your revision, with each person knowing more about a different part of the module, then this was also team-working. Finally all sporting societies have an element of team-work to them, whether it is a team sport like hockey or football or if it s an individual sport where you are all cheering each other on and helping each other train.

3 Problem-solving is, quite literally, being able to solve problems. This means that you are able to anticipate where problems could arise and that you are able to logically work through the problem to find a satisfactory conclusion. In the workplace, problem-solving is used in all sorts of situations. One example is working out the best way to spend a tight budget on a project without under-funding any one part of the process. Another type would be reacting to changes, like coming up with a contingency plan should a large piece of machinery fail when an order is due to be produced. Problems you might have encountered whilst at university could include: catching up with studies after an illness, issues with understanding your course material, problems relating to your student accommodation or finances. If you are on a sandwich course, you may have some experience of problem solving in the workplace too. Relationships are mentioned on the slide because from time to time you get conflict in a group of people. Sorting out this conflict and getting everyone happy to talk to each other again is another example of problem-solving.

4 Leadership is not a matter of bossing everyone around and seeming to do no work! Leadership involves being in charge of and taking responsibility for a group of people. It also involves trying to ensure that you get the best out of each individual and ensuring that everyone is happy with what they are doing. Good leadership is vital, if something were to go wrong, it would be the leader or manager that would have to take the blame. Leadership is a skill which is used throughout the working world. It can be as small a task as being put in charge of a project which only involves two other people or as large as being the managing director of an international organisation. Again this is a skill that you may have picked up from your course work. You may have found that one of your fellow students was the best at summarising information and so ensured that they got that task, or just chased up your colleagues for a missing piece of information. Team sports provide ample opportunity to develop leadership skills. If you find that your team mates look to you for tactical ideas or seek your opinion when they want to change formation, then they may see you as something of a leader. Initiative is the ability to get started and the ability to find new opportunities. It is closely linked to problemsolving as, once a problem has been identified, you may need to take the initiative to find the solution. You can also think of it as seizing the moment or being proactive. As stated above, it is very important in sales positions and in creative positions such as marketing. In sales, the customer is unlikely to come to you, so you have to take the first step to get in touch with them and persuade them that your product or service is the best. In marketing, for example, it could involve being the first company to market a good in a certain way. If you have ever deliberately set out to find a free elective module, or tried to persuade your department to offer a new module because what you need isn t available, then that is taking the initiative. If you find that you don t understand something on your course and you ask your lecturer about it directly, rather than hoping it comes up in next week s tutorial, this is also taking the initiative. Similarly if you set up your own university club or society because you sensed a gap in the selection available, this is initiative.

5 Creativity is the ability to think of new things and to come up with new approaches. In the more artistic sense this could involve coming up with the next must-have gadget or designing an advertising campaign. In the widest sense it can also be seen to be finding new ways to solve problems, such as refining an existing process to make it more efficient. You may have had to have been quite creative with your budget. Perhaps you found that something you already owned could have a second use and so saved yourself from having to buy further items, or you had the idea of pooling your household s grocery money so you could buy in bulk and thus save money. Perhaps you are part of an artistic society, such as dance or drama and have had the opportunity to design the sets or costumes. Prioritising is the skill of being able to sort things into an order of importance. It is also a vital component of successful time management. Prioritising is used when you have a lot of things to do and you don t have sufficient time to do all of them. You need to find out which items are the most urgent and important and do those first, leaving the least urgent items until last, if you have the time. It doesn t just have to be about time though, it can be about money. Departmental budgets will require prioritising, as for example, there may not

6 be enough money to enable pay rises, an extra member of staff, new computers and having the office redecorated. Prioritising is a skill you are likely to use on most days. When you are revising for exams, there isn t anyone forcing you to revise, but you realise that out of the options of revising, staying in bed all day, watching excessive amounts of daytime television or sloping off to the pub with your friends, the revision is the most important activity and must be done first (hopefully!). Similarly with your finances, you will have had plenty of experience of having to turn down that expensive luxury item that you really wanted because the only money you had needed to be spent on food or rent. Commercial awareness means having a good idea of how business works and the issues that could affect the success of a business. This involves ensuring that there is good value for money, and that ethical and environmental concerns have been taken into consideration. It also means ensuring that the customers and shareholders are happy in the private sector, or that the public can see that a public sector organisation is working efficiently. Another major aspect is that of looking after employees and making sure that they are contented. As commercial awareness is more of an attitude than a skill, it is quite difficult to put it into context. Activities such as shopping should have given you a good sense of what is good value for money, and equally, you relationships with others should give you a good idea of how other people expect to be treated. The only real way to work on your commercial awareness is to gain experience in business, such as you may have had in a sandwich placement.

7 Outside of your degree programme, some employers may also be looking for extra skills. Some careers, such as being a sales representative, involve a lot of travel and so would expect you to have a driving licence. If you are looking to work abroad, then language skills are a necessity. If you are looking to join the armed forces or the police, then you would be expected to have a good overall level of fitness. Computing qualifications can include having completed a course in Sage, the bookkeeping program, or being happy with Microsoft Office, or being able to program in Java. Even if a job doesn t require a set qualification, you may find that something weird or wonderful will also help. For example, grade 8 piano would demonstrate not only a high musical ability, but that you had been prepared to put in years of dedication and practice. Being a qualified football referee would show that you were a responsible person and that you could be relied upon to take charge and be calm in a crisis. To conclude, there are a great deal of transferable skills that employers like to see demonstrated by their recruits. Hopefully this presentation has given you a better idea of what these skills are, what they are used for and how you may already be developing them without necessarily realising it.

8 The examples given were all based on what you experience during your university course and student life. If you have a part-time job or work during the holidays then you will have even more chances to develop your transferable skills. Later in the module you will look at drawing out evidence for your transferable skills from your time at university, from your social activities and from any work experience.

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