Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting the Job: Transferable Skills

A common concern for students, including myself, is employability. Do I have the right education, experiences and network for the job? Am I qualified enough for the position? What can I offer that a potential employer would want in an employee?

The answer should be the same for all of us: transferable skills. Transferable skills are any skills that have been learned in one role, such as an undergraduate student, and can then be taken and applied somewhere else, such as in the workplace. These skills are learned all throughout life from infancy into adulthood, but in my opinion they are specifically honed through student coursework.

If you're currently in the hunt for a job, you may be wondering which skills you should focus on to make yourself stand out. Here is a list of top 5 transferable skills that recruiters consistently look at in new graduate job candidates (as cited by the 2013 CACEE Recruitment Report):

  • Communication skills (verbal)
  • Teamwork skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Problem solving skills 

These skills breed well-rounded, job candidates that are able to take on a variety of roles. In a world where the economy urges that employees are able to easily and quickly adapt to changing roles on the daily, this can be very important to a hiring committee. These are words you want to bold on your resume and experiences that you want to highlight in your interview.

I think although students are aware of the value of these 5 core skills, we tend to undervalue the ways in which our courses have helped to develop these same key skills. For example, a chemistry student may have to take a practical (lab) portion where he/she would gain communication and teamwork skills cooperating with their lab partner; analytical skills observing and recording the experiment; problem solving skills while adapting to mistakes; and a strong work ethic ensuring that the experiment is carried out to completion no matter how many times the experiment goes wrong (and trust me, it happens a lot!). I am certain that these skills can be applied to any course or program of study here at UTSC in the same way.

Take a moment now to reflect on how your program of study relates to these important skills and how they connect to your employability as a student. You may be surprised at what you learn about yourself :)

If you'd like help developing your resume or preparing for your interview, be sure to come by the Academic Advising and Career Centre office, AC213, to talk to us about booking an appointment for a resume critique or mock interview!

Until next time,
Rajani Sellathurai

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