Spent this year working part-time in Burger King, and wondering why graduate recruiters would be interested in your application? However irrelevant you think your experience might sound, you might be surprised to discover that for a number of graduate and entry level positions, recruiters are more interested in identifying potential. Yes, it’s true that some jobs require specialist knowledge that only specific work experience or a degree can provide. However, at this stage in your career, transferrable skills can play a big part in how employable you are: the key is to make them sound relevant to the job you’re applying for.
So what are transferrable skills?
Transferrable skills refer to the competencies you gain in one particular setting, which you can carry over into other areas of your life. They particularly come in handy when you’re starting your career and don’t have directly relevant experience of working in a specific sector or a similar position before.
There are a number of core skills that most employers are after. Here are a few examples:
- problem solving,
- team working.
When putting your application together think closely about the skills you’ve developed and the experiences you’ve had and how an employer might view them. Remember to provide specific examples of where these skills were gained. Doing this will make you more memorable to employers and will stop your application from sounding too generic.
How do I gain them?
The good news is you will already have some! Skills are picked up throughout your life: through education, work experience, extra-curricular projects or volunteering. If you’ve worked in a bar or in retail then you will have had experience of providing customer service. Being friendly and approachable and solving customer problems effectively are key skills relevant to all employers. Also being punctual, reliable and trustworthy demonstrates good self-management – these skills will be an attractive prospect for any potential employer.
Alternatively if you’ve ever been involved in a group project at university, or if you play sport, then you’ve worked as a team. This is an opportunity for you to tell employers about how you can recognise and understand the viewpoints of others, appreciate the contributions made by all, and how you have built strong interpersonal skills. Furthermore if you ever had to settle disputes or disagreements while working with a group of people, this would show employers that you possess the ability to problem solve.
Help, I don’t think I have any transferrable skills!
If you feel that you lack some key skills, there is still plenty of time to gain them. Being at university is a great chance to build upon your talents. If you want to improve your communication for example, there are a variety of societies you can join which will help you with this, such as debating societies, drama groups or even the magic society. Additionally you can develop your communication skills by delivering presentations as part of your course. By getting involved in this type of activity, you will be able to demonstrate to employers that you can adopt your style to suit different audiences, and that you are able to speak publicly while overcoming nerves.
The important thing to remember is- you should not be discouraged from applying to something just because you haven’t been in a similar role before. Recruiters look for potential. They want someone who has the right aptitude for the role. So if you can show in your job application or at an interview that you have previously used the skills that they’re after, that you have enthusiasm and the ability to absorb new knowledge, then you will have a great chance of being considered.
Pagan Aspinall, Graduate Intern