You may be wondering what all those years of study will add up to once working life begins. There is a limit to how much French poetry you can discharge in a business meeting, after all.
But whatever your subject specialism, your time studying is likely to have equipped you with a range of transferable skills that will serve you well in your professional life. You simply need to spend a little time labelling those skills that you have used and developed on a day-to-day basis and identifying the specific tactics and strategies that have stood you in good stead.
Here are some of the top transferable skills employers look for:
1. Learning skills
Employers don’t expect graduates to be the finished article, but they do want people who can absorb new information quickly and pick up new skills. Consider your lack of fear in taking on new subjects, courses and methods; how did you approach them?
2. Research and analytical skills
Research and analysis are key to many roles, from law and consulting, to copy writing and publishing. Think about the number of times you’ve had to research, digest, analyse and summarise information whilst studying. What made you good at it?
3. Quantitative skills/ numeracy
Quantitative and data processing skills are an extension of the above and are vital in professions such as finance and engineering. If you’re a numbers person this is a no brainer, but language students can be ‘surprisingly’ good at the logic behind the numbers too.
4. Organisational skills
This really is a life skill and relevant to all roles. On any course there is going to be an emphasis on time management and independent working, but if you’ve had experience of organising others (perhaps through a club or society), so much the better. Consider the techniques that have worked best for you along the way.
5. Communication skills
Working life involves being able to communicate effectively, whether with colleagues, bosses or clients. It’s about listening to others and understanding their needs while putting your own views across clearly, either verbally or over email and written work. Think about how you have communicated differently with different people or audiences. What conscious changes did you make to your words?
6. Interpersonal skills
Interpersonal skills are crucial for integrating into a team or wider organisation. It means being able to work effectively alongside others and to handle conflicts and disagreements tactfully. Look at social or working situations that you’ve had to manage diplomatically and then identify the strategies you used and why.
7. Managing people
While managerial roles are probably some years off, you may soon find yourself having to take the lead on projects and bring others round to your way of thinking. Every time you have delegated tasks, assigned roles, prioritised the actions of a group or focussed a team you have demonstrated management skills.
You’ll be more accomplished in many of these skills than you give yourself credit for, but you can always plug any gaps by seeking out opportunities to learn and demonstrate those skills or you could take a short course. The broader your set of soft skills the better placed you’ll be to make the transition to working life.