Last updated on 3/19/2014 Print this page
What are employability skills?
- The selection criteria for graduate opportunities often asks
for evidence of employability skills or competences - sometimes
called transferable skills, as they can be developed in one context
(such as extra-curricular activities or volunteering) but transfer
into the workplace.
- Employability skills are the broader skills, which largely
apply to a greater or lesser extent to most jobs and are indicators
- Employers argue that someone can study a subject, such as Human
Resources, but it does not necessarily mean that they have the
skills to work in Human Resources. However, if they have good
communication skills, influencing skills, organisational skills and
team-working skills, these are stronger indicators of their likely
ability to work in Human Resources.
Which employability Skills do employers want?
The skills employers ask for vary depending on the job, and what
it involves, but the CBI (Confederation of British
Industry) in partnership with Universities UK, identified the
following skills as those employers seek from graduates:
Self-management – readiness to accept
responsibility, flexibility, resilience, self-starting, appropriate
assertiveness, time management,readiness to improve own performance
based on feedback/reflective learning, ability to set priorities
and make effective plans and achieve objectives in spite of
obstacles. (*reflection and self-development)
Leadership skills - as defined by recognizing
opportunities, providing evidence of responsibility for others and
ability to motivate others, comfortable working with other people,
using a variety of resources effectively, creating a good first
impression, appearing self confident, enthusiastic and
Initiative - gets going on important
priorities, overcomes obstacles, keepsmoving towards goals, finds
improved ways of getting results.
Problem solving – analysing facts and
situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate
solutions, ability to sort through complex data, obtains others'
viewpoints, identifies important issues, thinks through
alternatives, learns from successes and mistakes to better solve
problems, makes realistic/practical decisions.
Communication skills and literacy – application
of literacy, ability to produce clear, structured written work.
organises and expresses thoughts clearly and concisely both
verbally and in writing, expresses ideas so as to gain commitment
to them, involves and informs others to share the whole picture,
recognizes cultural differences and communicates in ways that work.
Also includes listening and questioning.(critical and
independent thinking), negotiating and persuading. (inter
Team working – has played a key role in
groups/teams, demonstrates integrity and high personal standards,
respects others, co-operates and works effectively with a diverse
range of people and enables all to contribute, builds productive
working relationships, gets the best results, sensitive to cultural
and political issues. Listens. contributing to discussions, and
awareness of interdependence with others
Application of numeracy – manipulation of
numbers, general mathematical awareness and its application in
practical contexts (e.g. measuring, weighing, estimating and
IT Skills – basic IT skills, including
familiarity with word processing, spreadsheets, file management and
use of internet search engines. (digital literacy and knowledge
Business and customer awareness – sometimes
called 'commercial awareness' – a basic understanding of the key
drivers for business success – including the importance of
innovation and taking calculated risks – and the need to provide
customer satisfaction and build customer loyalty.
Enterprise, creativity and innovation: broadly,
an ability to demonstrate an innovative approach, creativity,
collaboration and risk taking- taking a broad view, translates new
ideas into workable solutions, goes beyond the accepted ideas to
find new opportunities and generates ways to get better results,
searches out and reapplies proven ideas/methods to new situations,
uses logic and intuition. Demonstrates a positive
attitude: a 'can-do' approach, a readiness to take
part and contribute, openness to new ideas and a drive to make
these happen.(creativity, enterprise and innovation)
Underpinning all these attributes, the key foundation, must be a
positive attitude: a ‘can-do’ approach, a
readiness to take part and contribute, openness to new ideas and a
drive to make these happen.(creativity, enterprise and
Frequently mentioned by both employers and universities is
entrepreneurship/enterprise: broadly, an ability
to demonstrate an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration
and risk taking.
* In brackets are the skills from the Hull Graduate
Attributes Framework. In addition to those listed above, the
University's Strategic Plan includes Global citizenship
& civic and social responsibility.
Source: CBI 'Future Fit: Preparing Graduates for the world
of work. - download from www.cbi.org.uk
How do I demonstrate that I have these skills?
You can demonstrate that you have these skills by providing an
example of an occasion when you used these skills. Online
application forms often steer you towards providing evidence, by
asking questions, such as:
- Tell us about an occasion when you worked
as a member of a team. What was your role in the team, and
what was the team working towards?
- Give us an example of when you have solved
a problem, what was your strategy and what was the
- Use C-A-R to structure your examples.
View information about applications and interviews, and how to
prepare for such questions.
Use your e-portfolio to record evidence of the skills
you have gained.