According to a recent article in the Independent, 70% of employers believe extra-curricular activities make graduates stand out – and make them even better employees. The skills gained from these activities could include organisation, time management, leadership, and teamwork – skills that you might not be able to demonstrate from your studies alone.
In this short series of blogs, we’ll focus on some examples of common skills employers are looking for (you’ll see these listed in the job description) and how you can develop these during your time at QMUL.
Look out for part 2, where we’ll focus on organisation, flexibility and responsibility.
Written and verbal communication
- During your studies, you will have plenty of examples of essays, reports and presentations to draw on, but you could also develop your communication skills in a part-time job – working in retail involves speaking to customers, whilst a part-time office role will involve written correspondence with colleagues and clients and you could be presenting at team meetings.
- As part of a society on campus, perhaps you run the committee meetings (which also demonstrates leadership skills) or promote the work of the group at Freshers Fair and other campus events.
- Starting your own blog is a great way to develop your writing skills, and combined with following relevant organisations/individuals on social media, is a useful tool for networking.
- Teamwork skills can be developed through your studies, i.e. working together on a presentation, or other activity as part of your course. Think about what role you played within the group, and what problems you faced. How did you resolve them? Did you support other members of the group, and if so, how?
- Part-time work is an excellent way to develop these skills (as well as earn money!), and can give you some useful examples to use in interview situations – i.e. “describe a time when you worked as part of a team”. Again, think about your role in the team and the tasks you carried out which demonstrate how you worked with others.
- Being involved in a sports team involves communication and teamwork skills, whilst also keeping you fit! Mention any team successes, such as winning a league or competition, and think about your role within the team and what you personally contributed.
- In applications and interviews, it’s important to highlight your contribution to a group project or team exercise, as an employer is interested in what you did/achieved as an individual. Always use ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ to demonstrate this.
Attention to detail
- Employers want to see evidence that you can complete a task with a high level of accuracy. Numerical examples work well, for example working on a data entry project, processing large volumes of data. To demonstrate your attention to detail, explain your process for checking the accuracy of the data, and the result of the task, i.e. that you processed 100% of the data with no errors, and that the final totals matched what you were expecting.
- In a part-time retail role, you may be responsible for handling high volumes of cash. Your attention to detail might have helped you to find discrepancies, and again this is a great example to use in an interview.
- In a part-time role or through your studies, you may have developed your own processes for improving accuracy – this could be a checklist or any other system which helps you.
- A final point – proofread your application/CV/cover letter before you submit it, as you’ll need to demonstrate your attention to detail here too!
- See QRecruit for work experience opportunities, and QMSU for a full list of campus societies you can get involved in.
- Remember! Keep track of all your achievements by making sure your CV is regularly updated. This means if an employer asks for a CV at short notice, you’ll have something ready to send. You can find more information on CVs here.
If you need some advice about how to demonstrate your skills effectively, why not book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants? You can find the details here: http://www.careers.qmul.ac.uk/about/book/index.html