How do I articulate what my skills are?

Skills? What skills?

When you look for employment, the knowledge you have gained in your degree will obviously be very important. You may not realise it, but the learning you do in your lectures, the pracs you do in your labs, and the assessments that you juggle with your social life and/or part time job, all contribute to the development of both generic and specialist skills.

Importantly, you'll need to show you have skills in areas outside of your degree subjects. Skills that apply to your whole life, not just your studies or your career.

Knowing what skills you have and how you got those skills will help you write your CV and 'sell' yourself in an interview.

Employers are saying they want uni graduates that can communicate well, that can work effectively with a team, that are independent and motivated, a whole range of skills.

The Skill Groups

Skills can be broken down into the following groups:

  • Research and inquiry: analysing information, thinking critically, solving problems, disseminating (communicating) what you have found out
  • Communication and interpersonal: oral, written and non-verbal; teamwork, leadership and networking
  • Information literacy: knowing when there is a need for information, being able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use and cite the information; ability to use IT
  • Personal and intellectual autonomy: self-management, learning independently and setting goals
  • Ethical, social and professional understanding: knowing your role as a professional scientist, your personal identity and ethics

Articulating what your skills are: homework to get you ahead!

Look at the list of generic skills on this page and have a think about which skills you already possess. Try to think of how you obtained and developed those skills (eg. maybe you developed your leadership skills through leading a group assessment or through coaching a sporting team). In job interviews, you will be expected to provide examples of how you have displayed particular skills. Prepare yourself by having some examples up your sleeve!

Getting experience

While you can get a lot of good experience at uni, through your lectures, tutes and labs, employers are looking for experience that comes from outside the classroom as well. Good marks will get you only so far - to really stand out to a potential employer, you'll need experience.

Get involved in extra-curricular activities, like sporting teams, clubs and societies, volunteering, casual work, bands, drama. Anything that develops you as a person is also good experience for your future career.