How to boost your employability skills

How to boost your employability skills

Entry-level candidates make up a large slice of the jobs market.

There tends to be a lack of relevant skills and experience amongst jobseekers, which means employers are struggling to recruit. Finding candidates who’ve got what it takes is key. By improving your employability skills, you can bag yourself a great job.

Take a look at some of the ways entry-level candidates can brush up on their employability skills.

To apply for entry-level jobs, click here.

Effective communication

In almost any role, you will be required to be able to communicate, verbally and in writing/on a computer.

Clear communication is very important and is easily identified at interview.

A recent survey, carried out by professional services training company, Kaplan, found UK employers prize effective communication, more highly than all other skills.

Sometimes nerves at interview can hinder how well you come across. If you think interview anxiety makes you less able to communicate well, consider practising your interview technique – maybe by roleplaying with a friend or family member – to boost your confidence. The more relaxed you are in the interview, the better you will communicate and the more likely you are to be successfully appointed.

A positive attitude

Stuart Pedley-Smith, head of UK learning at Kaplan, and author of a recent recruitment skills study, said: “There is a well-known saying within recruitment – ‘recruit for attitude and train for skill’.”

Having a confident manner, positive attitude, ‘can do’ approach, appropriate body language and a smile will always stand you in good stead when hunting for a job.

You don’t have to be an expert in body language, or grin constantly like a Cheshire cat – but being able to demonstrate a willing, upbeat nature and showing that you can adopt a positive proactive attitude to any challenges, is a priceless attribute to prospective bosses.

It’s important to remember to be yourself too. As Simon Cooper, a partner at recruitment consulting specialists, The Chemistry Group, puts it: “Be yourself otherwise they’ll hire someone else, and if that someone else is you, remember – who do you want to be every day?”

Self-management skills

These include being able to work as part of a team, appropriateness for the environment/role, time management and personal appearance.

Mary Fairfield, 62, a former human resources manager in Scotland, said: “Key factors are politeness, punctuality, willingness to work, functional literacy and numeracy and an interest in the job.

“If you get that right – and turn up clean, with tidy hair, minimal tattoos and piercings, wearing a well-pressed shirt and trousers/skirt with polished shoes, you are off to a flying start.

Transferable skills are ones that you already use in your day-to-day life, such as communication skills, and these should be evidenced in references from work experience, voluntary work or babysitting.

“A surprising number of people think dirty hair hanging out of a grubby wooly hat, or thighs bulging out of a mini skirt are acceptable interview attire and they’re not.”

Relevant work experience

Work experience of any kind will help you be more employable. Work experience, which is specific to the type of work you wish to be employed in, is even more useful. It makes you stand out from the rest, shows commitment to that profession and demonstrates that you know something of the area/role in which you are seeking work.

Career expert Sinead Howland, of Sinead Howland Career Coaching, said: “Work experience is not just about previous paid employment. You can draw upon experiences at school, college, hobbies or volunteering.

“Employers want to know about any relevant experience you have had, and how it may help you in the job they are recruiting for. Demonstrate you can be committed to a task and trusted with responsibilities.

Volunteering is a great way to gain work experience and develop your skills and knowledge, whilst giving back to your community. A quick Internet search will come up with websites to help you find volunteering opportunities that suit your interests.”

Know your own skills

Sinead Howland said: “When giving examples of skills and experience, try to talk about what you are most passionate about. When we talk about what we love, we are more enthusiastic and confident.

“Take some time to write a list of your skills. Think about the most enjoyable job you have ever done, what skills were you using? Imagine your perfect job – what would you be doing and what skills are you using?

“Look at the skills listed in the jobs you are applying for – do you have these skills? How can you demonstrate them?

“Sometimes we use skills so frequently we forget we have them; ask people what skills they think you have. Perhaps you use a skill as part of a hobby; think about how this might be relevant to a job you are applying for.”

The National Careers Service website features a ‘Skills Health Check’. It’s a questionnaire designed to give you information on your skills, interests and motivations. The site also has a CV builder and course information.


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