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The Graduate Career Guidebook

2nd Edition

by Steve Rook

Chapter 3: Assessing your skills, interests and motivations


Activity: Two-minute test

Have a go at identifying your skills, interests and motivations with this two-minute test.

Download test here.


Top 10 transferable skills

1. Self-reliance
• Drive and energy
• Self-motivation
• Willingness to learn
• Initiative
• Ability to cope with pressure

2. Management, organisation and leadership
• Setting objectives
• Taking responsibility
• Determining the scope of a task/project
• Identifying and arranging the resources to undertake a task/project
• Managing your time

3. Communication
• Conveying ideas orally and in writing
• Adapting to the message/audience
• Actively listening
• Presenting ideas effectively
• Persuading and influencing people

4. Creativity and problem-solving
• Seeing problems from different angles
• Juggling complex concepts and ideas
• Breaking problems down
• Coming up with good ideas
• Deciding on the best course of action

5. Numeracy
• Handling and understanding data in context
• Interpreting and applying data to inform judgements

6. Teamwork
• Working well with others in groups and one-to-one
• Respecting other people’s opinions
• Providing encouragement/support
• Showing cultural sensitivity

7. Research and information literacy
• Selecting relevant information
• Using a range of resources
• Using information appropriately
• Analysing data
• Working legally and ethically
• Accurately citing sources

8. IT/computer literacy
• General Office skills
• Touch typing
• Using common software package and a willingness to embrace others

9. Commercial awareness
• Understanding the issues facing your chosen industry
• Appreciating how you could contribute to a company’s bottom line
• Analysing financial trends
• Ability to budget

10. Customer service
• Appreciating customer needs
• Delivering high standards of service
• Finding mutually beneficial solutions
• Using effective interpersonal skills to respond appropriately and professionally


How and where you can develop these skills

We all continuously develop our skills. For example, you can develop job related skills during volunteer experience; in a job; during your hobbies or even taking a night out.

The trick is to figure out the skills you need to develop and throw yourself into relevant activities. This is relatively easy for transferable skills such as teamwork and organization. For example, you could:

· Just get involved in new hobbies, jobs and voluntary opportunities

· Network to get to know new people and create opportunities

· Attempt aspects of roles where you’re not so confident (e.g. leading teams or making presentations)

· Manipulate situations so you can take on more challenging roles (e.g. volunteer at work to lock up at the end of the day)

· Enrol on skills/career based modules

· Ask for help from colleagues

You can develop particular technical competencies related to your chosen career by helping out in the sector; working in a similar role, signing up for relevant modules at university or even registering for some evening courses.

Employers are especially impressed by applicants who have clearly gone out of their way to widen their experience and develop their relevant skills.


Further resources

www.brunel.ac.uk/pdc - Guidance on what employers want and how to navigate the application process

www.bradford.ac.uk/careers/ - Information on the labour market, local and international opportunities and case studies from past graduates