Skills Analysis - Section contents

There are two types of skills which graduates acquire and which employers seek:

  • Professional or technical skills – specific skills required by your career field, acquired through study and career-related work experience
  • Employability skills – transferable skills which are common to all work roles and workplaces, acquired through study and career-related work experience, but also through a range of work and other life experiences eg , extra-curricular activities, travel

There are a number of reasons you may want to assess your skills:

  • to check the state of your general employability skills – these are often appear in selection criteria for positions, and are particularly important for  selection into graduate employment programs 
  • to assess your skills, both technical and employability – for a particular role or position  
  • to assess your complete skills set – to determine employment possibilities given your particular skill mix


Assessing your employability skills

Employability skills are highly valued by employers because they are critical for effective and harmonious performance in the workplace and within a workgroup. It is usually the case that many job applicants have the required technical skills; what sets them apart is the sophistication (or not!) of their employability skills.

Examples of employability skills include: interpersonal and communication skills (consistently rated as the most important), teamwork, leadership and initiative. A list of key employability skills has been developed in consultation with employers. This list is reproduced in Graduate Careers Australia booklet You and Your Career on page 36.

Use this list of skills to reflect on where you feel competent; refer to the elements within each skill to fully understand what the skill is all about. Consider which skills you may need to work on. Keep a record of examples of where you have demonstrated these skills; especially when you are applying for graduate positions, you are likely to be asked for examples in both written applications and interviews.

Consider creating a document along the lines below, and use it throughout your studies to identify skills to work on, and to record examples.

 

Employability skill       Self-rating (1-3)*       Examples       Skills to work on - what? how? when?








 

* Self-rating:
1=underdeveloped skills     2=reasonable level of skill     3=very well developed skill

While these skills are certainly developed through your studies, other experiences such as work experience and extra-curricular and community activities are good opportunities to develop employability skills.


Assessing skills for a particular role or job

When you have a specific type of position in mind, assessing your skills in relation to what is required can give you a realistic insight into your employability, and most importantly, a chance to identify areas which you can work on.

The first step is to be clear about the key skills (and areas of knowledge) required for the role. Some ways of doing this include:

  • review advertised positions to see what skills and knowledge are sought; these are usually outlined in the job advertisement, but a position description with more detail may also be provided
  • ask people in positions you seek, employers or recruiters about what is required or valued

A simple framework is all that is required to organise your thinking and plans to work towards enhancing your skills and knowledge where needed. You might create a table such as the one below.

 

Skills/knowledge requiredMy current level of skill/knowledgeActions to enhance skills/knowledge










Assessing all your skills

Sometimes it is useful to assess all your skills. For example, some students and graduates (mature students in particular) may have had a range of experiences and education, and wonder about their employment options given their unique skill mix.  A full skills audit is also a valuable exercise in the lead-up to preparing for job applications and interviews to identify all relevant skills.

Start by identifying all the jobs, roles and activities which you have undertaken. For each, list down the tasks performed, and then for each task, the skills developed. For this purpose, include key knowledge areas also. Use a simple table format such as the one below.

                             Role                                                 Tasks                                        Skills/Knowledge used           









 

How do I improve my skills?
  • Study program – make the most of opportunities within your studies to develop employability skills eg through group project work, presentations, internship subjects....
  • Work experience - internships and other activities such as volunteering and part-time work – valuable for developing employability skills, and for professional skills when career related
  • Targeted skills training - either formally through concurrent accredited certificates and diplomas, or through short courses and professional development activities offered by professional associations – particularly useful when adding to your professional skills set