Ways to develop your skills

When applying for jobs, you will need to be able to list your specialist and generic skills in your CV, and be able to talk about them if you get an interview.

Developing your generic skills

A great way to identify which generic skills you need to develop, is to use this skills checklist. You will then have a better idea of which skills you need to develop and use this information to plan your future activities and career. For example, you might find that you need to work on your leadership skills. You might do this by putting your hand up to lead your next group assignment, or by volunteering to be a mentor in a mentoring program like SLAM Lunches. Programs like these provide leadership training for those wishing to become mentors to new students.

By following this approach, you will start to develop generic skills across a range of areas, and be able to give examples of certain skills you possess at interview time!

Developing your specialist skills

For specialist skills, this largely depends on what kind of work you intend to pursue. One way to find out what kind of skills are needed for particular professions is to ask your lecturers, tutors and lab demonstrators. You can also use a job search engine to search for job advertisements in that profession - job ads usually list the kind of skills that you need to possess in order to be considered for that position.

Once you know what kind of specialist skills you need to improve or obtain, you can work towards it. The main thing is to find out what skills you need, and then find ways to develop those skills! For example, maybe you are looking at a career in microscopy. You might find that advertised positions in this profession require you to be experienced in specimen preparation. To develop your skills in that area, you could take a subject that focuses on specimen preparation. You could also chat to staff in the university who might have advice on how to develop your skills in that area or be willing to 'coach' you to develop that skill.


Practise makes perfect! To master any skill, whether it be hitting a tennis ball or performing a dissection, you need to practise! The more you do something, the better you become at it.

Lastly, you never know when a good opportunity will present itself, so get in the habit of seizing the day and saying "Yes" when a good opportunity comes along, because you never know when you'll get the opportunity again. New experiences are great for expanding not only your skill set, but also your network of peers, and having contacts in a range of areas can only help when searching for and applying for jobs!