Develop your employability skills

Employability skills are the knowledge, attributes and experiences that you obtain to help you prepare for and successfully navigate through your career. These skills will enable you to adapt and manage the constantly changing nature of your career.

Soft and hard skills

These include technical (or hard) skills and transferable (or soft) skills, such as:

  • communication
  • creativity and innovation
  • initiative and enterprise
  • professionalism
  • planning and organisation
  • problem identification and solution
  • teamwork
  • intercultural competence
  • use of tools and technology.

Every stage of your career requires that you are able to identify, analyse, prioritise and convincingly articulate your skills.

You'll need to do this when you're:

  • career planning
  • applying for jobs using a resume, cover letter or response to selection criteria
  • being interviewed for a job
  • requesting new duties and responsibilities
  • selecting future professional development.

General employability skills

Develop your skills while studying

During your studies you can still develop your employability skills, particularly those related to your course.

Do this by engaging in:

  • Work Integrated Learning (WIL), placements and internships
  • class presentations and group assignments
  • Study Abroad and Exchange
  • part-time or casual work
  • volunteering
  • extra-curricular activities (sport, hobbies etc.)
  • community involvement including clubs and societies
  • modules offered through programs such as Leap into Leadership Online.

Study-related skills

Graduates from each faculty typically develop certain skills.

Adapted from Degrees of Skill. The Council for Industry and Higher Education, UK, 2006.

Reflecting on experiences to articulate employability skills

Once you identify your employability skills, your next step is to use a reflection tool to articulate these into meaningful examples. The most effective method is to present them through the STAR method.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result and can be applied to help provide a succinct, well-structured reflection. This method is used by recruiters when analysing whether candidates possess the required skills.

Situation
Briefly describe the situation or scene. Provide detail, such as organisation, title, dates and project information.
Task
Describe what needed to be done to address the situation and what your role and responsibilities were.
Action
Explain what you did and how you did it. Include the challenges and your reasons for your action.
Result
What happened as a result of your action? Consider quantitative and qualitative results.

Student Futures, an online tool to help you build a bank of employability skill examples.

Employability attributes

Attributes are your approach to work and are usually related to your value system. Unlike skills, they are very difficult to teach someone. Employers will seek out particular attributes. You need to recognise your own and learn to communicate them to employers.

These include such things as:

  • adaptability
  • loyalty and commitment
  • ability to deal with pressure
  • honesty and integrity
  • commonsense
  • enthusiasm and motivation
  • reliability
  • sense of humour.