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Employability skills are the knowledge, attributes and experiences that you obtain to help you prepare for your career. These qualities enable you to adapt and manage the constantly changing work environment.

These skills include hard skills (technical or discipline-specific) and generic or soft skills, such as:

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

Developing employability skills

During your studies you can develop your employability skills and still achieve excellent marks.

You can do this by engaging in:

  • paid or voluntary work
  • Work Integrated Learning (WIL)
  • placements and internships
  • class presentations
  • group assignments
  • Study Abroad and Exchange
  • extra-curricular activities (sport, hobbies etc)
  • community involvement including clubs and societies
  • enrol and complete the different modules offered by our employability skill enhancement program, Leap into Leadership Online.

General employability skills

Study-related skills

Graduates from each faculty typically develop certain skills. Examples include:

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

Reflecting on your experiences to articulate your 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 posses the required skills.

  • Situation. Describe the context within which you performed a job. Provide detail, such as organisation, title, dates and project information.
  • Task. Describe your responsibility in that situation.
  • Action. Describe how you completed the task or met the challenge.
  • Result. Explain the outcome or results from the action taken. Try to use tangible or measurable outcomes where possible.

Find out how Student Futures, an online tool, can assist you in building 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.

References

  • Employability Skills for the Future, 2002, Hely, P., produced by the Department of Education, Science and Training and the Australian National Training Authority.
  • Student Employability Profiles: A Guide for Employers, 2005, Kubler, B., and Forbes, P., produced by the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) in association with Graduate Prospects. London: CIHE.