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Employability skills

When you apply for work, employers are keen to see evidence of your skills, knowledge and personality attributes. Every job will require a different mix of skills, knowledge and personal attributes, however there are some common things that employers look for in applicants, and these are commonly referred to as 'employability skills', 'employability attributes' or 'transferrable skills'.

When you are at university it is useful to think about your options after graduation and see if you can identify a specific career or job you may want to go into and then to get experience relevant to this career. But it is also useful to think about how you can develop your generic 'employability skills'. Importantly employers will often look for evidence of your skills in application forms so making sure you have some good examples of where you have used your skills in your studies or in work experience is important.

Employability skills are generally understood to include things like:

  • Self management
  • Team working
  • Business and customer awareness
  • Problem solving
  • Communication and literacy
  • Application of numeracy
  • Application of information technology

                                                 (CBI, 2009)

Further Information

Further information on  the kinds of skills and attributes employers look for are available on the Careers and Employability Centre advice sheet What Employers Want. This advice sheet also contains an exercise to help you identify what you can do to improve your employability skills and attributes.

For a more complete introduction to the topic you may also find it useful to look at the Learning Resources on 'Preparing for Employment' which are available in our Resource Library.

Students and graduates (within two years) can also arrange to speak to an adviser for further more personalised information and advice about how to improve employability skills and attributes and opportunities for personal and professional development.