Overview and resources
There are many definitions of employability broadly similar to the following example from the CBI:
"A set of attributes, skills and knowledge that all labour market participants should possess to ensure they have the capability of being effective in the workplace - to the benefit of themselves, their employer and the wider economy."
The NUS teamed up with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to produce Working Towards Your Future - a straightforward guide to the skills and attributes that employers look for. It demystifies "Employability" and gives lots of useful advice on developing employability skills through your course work, social activities, volunteering and work experience in order to make the most of your university experience.
Developing employability is an iterative process of reflecting, learning and getting experience.
Skills for work: skills that you can transfer to the world of work, and from one job to another as you gain experience
Note: See also links below to online resources to help you identify and develop the skills that you have.
All skills (and knowledge) are potentially transferable from the situation where they were acquired to other situations. For graduates, the main areas of transfer are from academic study, work experience placements/internships, voluntary work, extra-curricular activities, travel … into employment.
You will often come across references to generic "key skills" or "core skills” because they are important across all employment sectors and jobs, e.g.
- Verbal and written communication
- Information technology
- Analysing and problem solving.
Employers look for higher-level generic skills in graduates such as
- Managing risk and uncertainty
- Being enterprising
- Creative thinking.
You will acquire Intellectual (or cognitive) skills from the study of any degree discipline, for instance:
- Critical evaluation of evidence and its interpretation
- Ability to sustain a logical argument and reach a conclusion that can be defended as reasonable
- Analysing and synthesising information
- Ability to compare and contrast theoretical explanations and to integrate different methodologies
- Thinking flexibly and making connections between different parcels of knowledge
- Evaluating professional practice and challenging assumptions
- Modelling problems mathematically and attacking them quantitatively.
There are also several attitudes which are valued alongside these skills:
- Being rigorous in the design of your projects
- Awareness of ethical issues, knowing the limitations of your data and the techniques used to collect and analyse it
- Being open-minded to challenges to the status quo and willing to examine an issue from several points of view
- Reasoning from evidence while tolerating other interpretations of that evidence
- Awareness of gaps in your knowledge and being prepared to learn from others as well as independently.
Resources to help you identify and review the skills that you have:
The following resources will help you to understand and develop both core skills and the higher-level skills that employers look for in graduates.
Profiling For Success is an online service which is FREE to all our students. It offers a range of self-assessment tools to help you check your skills in areas such as numeracy, literacy and verbal reasoning, and also to analyse what motivates you, what 'makes you tick' and what your learning style is - the way in which you learn most easily can provide very useful clues as to the kind of working environment that would suit you best.
Interactive Career Management Portal: You need to be logged into MyUni to access this link. The Portal is a set of interactive courses covering many career management topics such as: meeting skills, customer service, negotiation, presentation skills, project management, teamwork skills, problem solving, together with personal development skills including setting priorities, time planning, decision making and delegating.
Sections on the Graduate Prospects website:
- What can I do with my degree? provides help with developing your skills awareness in the context of your interests, personality, values and what motivates you.
- Applying for jobs – what skills do employers want
Sections on the TARGETjobs website: