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Employability is improved by a good academic record plus skills and attributes that enable you to adapt and manage the constantly changing work environment.

Employability 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 describe your skills.

You need these 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

You develop employability skills through work (paid or voluntary), studies and community involvement. During your degree, you should not only strive for excellent results but also be involved in a variety of activities within the community including clubs and societies, sport, hobbies, and volunteer  activities.

General employability skills

Skills area Skills claims Possible evidence
Communication
  • Organising and expressing ideas concisely.
  • Speaking clearly and directly to individuals or groups.
  • Being proficient in other languages.
  • Writing assignments and reports.
  • Presenting and participating in class discussions.
  • Using customer service skills.
Teamwork
  • Working in a team to achieve a common goal..
  • Sharing information, supporting and empowering other team members.
  • Responding constructively to the opinions of others.
  • Working on group assignments at university.
  • Being involved in a student society, sports team or community organisation.
  • Working in a team in employment.
Problem identification and solution
  • Researching and selecting relevant information to solve a problem.
  • Analysing issues for underlying causes, assessing options, proposing solutions.
  • Thinking sequentially, critiquing and synthesizing information.
  • Working on assessment exercises such as a research project.
  • Participating in work-integrated learning such as a placement or internship.
  • Working within a customer service environment and dealing with complaints.
Initiative and enterprise
  • Easily adjusting to new situations.
  • Mapping out ideas to an action plan.
  • Identifying innovative options.
  • Obtaining work placement, vacation employment or internship
  • Operating own business.
  • Innovation in student group, club or team.
Planning and organisation
  • Managing timelines and prioritising.
  • Allocating and coordinating tasks for self and others.
  • Anticipating future needs and forward planning.
  • Project planning or managing an event.
  • Arranging study and work commitments to support yourself at university.
  • Organising networking, fundraising, sporting or social activities.
Use of tools and technology
  • Proficiency in using computers and telecommunications systems.
  • Understanding current trends and developments Managing information through technology.
  • Sourcing information with electronic databases.
  • Using specialised software packages for course/occupation.
  • Managing project timelines with software.

Study-related skills

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

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

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.