The value of transferable skills by UoC English and Creative Writing student Holly Morrow

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Whether you’re building up your cv or trying your best to sell yourself at a job interview, it’s important to keep in mind what your future employer wants to hear from you. You might not necessarily have experience in the specific job your applying for, but that does not necessarily mean that you’re not capable for the role. Transferable skills are a great way of showcasing your strengths and abilities in a number of ways regardless of experience, and are most definitly something important to remember when it comes to applying for jobs.

So what are transferable skills? Reed.co.uk says: “Transferable skills are a core set of skills and abilities, which can be applied to a wide range of different jobs and industries” These can come from a range of experiences, from volunteering you may have done in the past or hobbies which require a certain level of ability.

How do these skills relate to my time at university? From participating in lectures to taking part in societies, university can play a vital role in building up your skill set and getting you some good talking points at an interview. Working as part of a team is something many employers are looking for, and is something you can definitely tie in to your time at university. Group work, though it can be something students dread at the time, is a great example you can give to employers about your ability to work together with others. Perhaps certain members couldn’t make certain meetings or didn’t pull their weight? You can reflect on how you worked around these difficulties and adapted to working with a group. You can also highlight your communication skills: maybe you decided to delegate various roles within your group, you can talk about how you were able to discuss the roles and decide on who was best for each position. The end result of some group work can be presentations, and in this case you can impress your future employers by reflecting on your verbal communication, or how you used your organisational skills to put together slides in a specific order to make sure you communicated your points clearly. You can also mention how you balanced your argument with counter points, showing your employer that you have research skills and the ability to express yourself clearly.

Another example could be participating in a university society. Maybe you were delegated a health and safety role. You can show responsibility by reflecting on how you had to do prior checks on venues for events, making sure they are accessible and a safe meeting place for students. You can show teamwork in meetings when discussing events you may planned to create. Here we can see a number of elements coming into play: creativity, events management, organisation, teamwork. All these are transferable skills which can put to work in various job roles. By reflecting on these skills in an interview you are able to show a number of attributes contributing to your working identity. Just talking about these skills will in turn showcase your ability to communicate points clearly and it will become evident that you are a good candidate for the job.

If you’re a bit stuck on finding what transferable skills you may have, you can also research online based on your previous work experiences, or even specific to your particular degree. There is also the Careers and Employability department which are there to help you and get you started in your working life. Make use of the services the university can provide, from mock interviews to personalised appointments, the careers department is a great stepping stone in your career development.

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