Pushing Toward Employment Nirvana – Part 3: Your Abilities & Experiences

business woman (photo by ralev_com)

Picture this. You’ve graduated, your stint in two societies as treasurer has come to an end, you’ve finished enjoying your elected position in the SU, and the members of your jamming band have gone their separate ways (i.e. back home).

You will have achieved a lot during your time at uni, even if you didn’t do all these things. But when it’s time to sell your skills and abilities to potential employers, it’ll come to nothing if you don’t mention it.

Whatever you’ve been through, you’re probably underestimating yourself. It’s time to start giving yourself some credit!

As I’ve already mentioned, a degree is now just the start. With a greater number of graduates entering the pool for work, there’s a need to stand out based on other experiences too. Don’t be shy!

To guide the way, it is important to do the following:

  • Think of key words and key experiences

First, here’s a basic list of experiences that might be relevant to you. I’m sure you can think of more. You may have done some of these, you may be aware of them, or you may be looking to participate in some of these in the future:

Clubs
Societies
Sports
Outside uni activities
SU elections
meetings and presentations
event preparation
dealing with the public
busking
general leisure activities (photography, writing, jogging, rambling, collecting…)
senior student/student ambassador duties
event assistance (car park duties, directions, bouncer on door, etc.)

They can all be used to your advantage in putting your selling points across.

Secondly, here’s just a small number of key words and skills that you can highlight when you mention experiences like those above:

Organisation
Team working ability
Trustworthy,
Determination
Commitment
Approachability
Willingness to participate
Enthusiasm
Leadership
Self-discipline
Presentation
Motivation
Flexibility
Dependability
Honesty
Creative
Practical

There are many more. To get a grasp of the type of words used by employers when looking for employees, scan the job adverts in local newspapers, national newspapers, the internet, specialist journals, and so on. Get a feel for business literature too, if you can. Read promotional literature about a company, such as their report & accounts and their mission statements. Reading on this level will point you in the right direction of what is being looked for.

I mentioned being a society treasurer at the beginning of this post. You can put many key words against having that responsibility. It will be a position requiring trust, organisation, dependability, a head for figures, and some pursuasive skills. Not bad going, especially if you’re referring to skills that are related to an activity you feel enthusiastic about.

I don’t know what experiences you’ve had; only you can do that. Take the time to note down what you have been through and how you have developed. Even the smallest of events could have given a whole new set of skills for you to impress an employer with. But you need to be impressed yourself before you can really hit it out to other people. That’s why it’s okay to look at yourself in more favourable terms for a few minutes than you might usually. Don’t put yourself down or feel as if you could have done better. Acknowledge your strengths and positivities so you can mention them proudly. Speaking up for yourself and highlighting where you can achieve something is different to arrogance. It’s only when you believe you’re the best, totally beyond everyone else, that you become arrogant. Even if you have a unique talent, explain it for what you can bring to a position, not simply for why you’re better than everyone else. Then it’s not arrogant. Pointing out the facts and experiences about you is about positively selling yourself. Remember that.

Be it a general hobby, a major commitment, or even writing a blog like this, there are so many ways to tap into your various achievements as you have developed over time. Even if you think you’re the most boring person around and don’t think you have any qualities worth noting, what you need is a kick up the bum in realising that you ARE able.

And when it gets nearer the time, read up on the companies you are applying for. I mention this now, because it’s amazing how little some candidates research the very places they are looking to impress. Bear this in mind and you’ll remember that a little research can go a long way. It also paves the way to proving that you can work off your own back, you can research a topic effectively, and you are enthusiastic. Also, with these pointers you can work on expressing your key abilities and skills that are mostly relevant to the position you are going to apply for.On Friday, it’s the dreaded CV post. It’s no good waiting to make that ‘killer’ CV. Even a Fresher – maybe not even a month into a new degree – can get started with a punchy document that can get you going right away. I’ll explain more in my final post.

This article is part of the Pushing Toward Employment Nirvana Series.  The full content links are: