• Understanding your skills

    Before you start to apply for jobs, you need to think about the skills you have that will help you to get and keep the type of job you want.

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    Employers don’t just look for people who can perform a set of tasks. They are interested in your skills and abilities.
    Your skills could have come from previous roles, unpaid work experience, voluntary work, training or your personal life. Knowing what your skills are is one of your greatest strengths.
    There are 2 areas of skills:
    • Hard skill
    • Soft skill
    • Hard skills – these are skills that can be measured and learned, through education, work or life experiences. Examples include qualifications, the speed at which you type or the ability to speak another language. These skills will be described on a job description, so personal experience can be matched to the essential knowledge the employer is looking for. For example, if they want someone with some bookkeeping experience, this is very easy to show on your CV
    • Soft skills – sometimes known as interpersonal skills. These are personal and social skills you need to be able to do most jobs. The best thing about soft skills is you don’t need qualifications to get them.
    Transferable skills are skills developed in one situation that can be transferred to another situation. For example, someone who has been out of work while caring for young children may have skills such as organisation, time management and negotiation as you need all three to care for a child. If you have played team sports you are likely to have teamwork as a skill.

    Transferable skills

    Soft skills and transferable skills are very similar.
    Here are examples of both:
    • Time management – showing up for work and meetings on time, sticking to breaks, and getting your work done on time. Good time management is about doing the most important tasks first and then the rest.
    • Personal presentation – dressing in an appropriate way for work.
    • Teamwork – being able to get on with the people you work with to get things done. A good team player is open, honest, listens, gives feedback and suggestions.
    • Attitude – staying positive at work even when things get difficult. Great examples include helping others, admitting when something goes wrong and learning from your mistakes. Employers like people who are positive, upbeat and have a ‘can do’ attitude.
    • Confidence – believing in yourself, your skills and abilities. All of these will help you work with people better and take on new tasks.
    • Communicating – good communication means you are able to listen, understand instructions, and put your point across without being aggressive.
    • Making decisions – gathering all the important facts, seeking advice, looking at the big picture and considering alternatives are all things that go into making a good decision.
    • Showing commitment – employers want people who are dependable, reliable, enthusiastic, and enjoy hard work.
    • Flexibility – it’s a great asset if you are able to step outside your comfort zone and try your hand at something you haven’t done before.
    If there is a gap between your skills and what employers want, you could look for training, self learning or voluntary work to help fill the gap. Employers will respect the fact that you are trying to develop your skills.