I decided to write on Skills Development today because in my responses to most emails I receive for CV review, I tend to mention skills a lot. Hence, the purpose of this article and the related posts is to define the skills that are key to your career.
Are you Employable?
An employable person is an individual that is qualified and ready to work. I have highlighted the qualified part of that statement because it is one major reason why some people are not employable.
There are several factors that make you employable. They are:
- The skills you possess and how well they relate to the job in view (Employability skills, our focus today)
- Presentation of these skills (Use of an effective CV which we've covered in earlier posts)
- External factors (such as availability of jobs, the labour market and the like)
What are Employability Skills?
Employability is simply the ability to gain employment and maintain that employment. Hence, employability skills can be described as those skills which aid your ability to gain and maintain an employment.
Employability skills include:
- Communication (Written and Verbal)
- Planning and Organising
- Computing skills
- Persuading and Negotiating
- Research or Investigating skill,
- Problem Solving
If you study this list properly, you should be able to tell that the importance of these skills will vary across different professions. For example, if you read last weeks "Professional of the Week" interview which featured a Geologist, you'll easily recognise some of the most important skills (or core skills) for a career in that field will include Analysing and Team work skills. Whereas an Auditor will start by highlighting skills like Numeracy and Investigating Skills as core skills for a career in his/her field.
How can I develop these skills?
It may interest you to know that these skills, even though termed 'Employability Skills' in this write up, also come into use in most of our daily activities.
It is important to pay a conscious effort to activities you are involved in so as to ensure that you are developing the core employability skills required for a career in your chosen career path.
For students, the most effective ways of developing these skills are through extra-curricular activities, part time work as well as academic activities in the course of study.
In the next few lines, I'll give an illustration of how to develop these skills.
- Membership of student groups as follows,
- Debating society (to develop communication skill)
- Sports team (to develop team work skill)
Part-time and vacation jobs:
- Working as an office/admin assitant (to develop planning and organising skill)
- Working as a market research assistant (to develop analysing skill)
- Working at a computer operator in a cyber cafe (to develop organising and
- Working as an accounts assistant (to develop numeracy skill)
Academics and study:
- Writting a term paper or dissertation (to develop writing/communication as well as
- Leading a group course work (to develop leadership skill)
I highlighted "conscious effort" above because I believe it is important you make an effort to choose activities that help you build core skills. As a student, I ensured my part time job gave me the opportunity to develop my core employability skills. Hence, I didn't just look for a part time job with the aim of making some extra cash; my priority was developing core skills. It is advisable for students to take a few hours of work (paid or unpaid/voluntary) because it enables them to develop core skills. For instance, working as an admin/finance assistant at a cyber cafe will enable you develop several employable skills.
I recently reviewed the CV of a fresh graduate and the owner of this CV worked at a cyber cafe while at university. So, in addition to his degree in Computer Sciences, he developed his employability skills by working part time as a Computer Operator at the cyber cafe, diverted into website designing and also got involved in delivering basic computer training. You can see that this individual has developed several employable skills including communication, planning & organising, leadership etc. Can you imagine the difference between this individual and someone that did not get involved in any form of part time or extracurricular activity while at university? One of them obviously has more value (skills) than the other.
How can I show a recruiter or prospective employer that I possess these skills?
It is important to note that it does not stop at possession of employable skills. Your application or CV must properly portray these skills to recruiters.
Please read the post on Illustration: Creating a More Effective CV (Part 2) to learn how to achieve this.
In future posts under this Skill Development feature, I will focus on skills/employability skills for particular professions. Watch this space!
Skill Development: Team Work
Skill Development: Communication Skill
Skill Development: Managing Teams
Skill Development: Leadership Skill