WHAT ARE EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS?
When hiring, employers all look for a set of core skills. You will normally be asked to give examples – in your application or at interview – of times you have demonstrated these.
Core skills include:
- Team working
- Communication (written and spoken)
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Commercial awareness
- Eye for detail
- IT skills
- Taking the initiative
When you get around to applying to jobs, the ability to demonstrate these core skills is as important as being able to demonstrate excellent grades in your degree. As the core skills are largely transferable, you should find ways to prove or improve them even before you start to think about specific jobs.
Some of these you will be able to evidence through your studies. For example, any Oxford student who has to write essays as part of their course, should be able to use this as an example of good written communication skills.
However, the way employers prefer to see these demonstrated is through work experience or extra-curricular activities.
Many jobs will have additional skills they look for. Advertising careers, for example, are likely to want some evidence of creativity, and charity fund-raising may want to see evidence of your using databases. When you have an idea of the jobs you want to apply for, you should investigate what sort of skills you should start to develop, in preparation for your application.
WAYS TO DEVELOP EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS
There are many forms of work experience available, including internships in the City, opportunities sourced through our Internship Office, short-term work experience you have found yourself, and volunteering. See our work experience page for more information.
Student Societies, Unions AND COMMON ROOMS
The benefits of joining a student society related to your career interests are self-explanatory. Student societies, OUSU, the Union, JCRs and MCRs also all have functions that mirror those in any professional organisation – such as leadership, budget-holding, and organisational skills. As such, there are great application advantages to holding committee positions while at Oxford.
Getting involved in any team sport while at Oxford – whether at Blues level or the bottom of the collegiate division – are a great way to demonstrate team skills to employers. Reaching high levels in an individual or team sport will also demonstrate ambition and determination to future employers.
Travelling during your degree or on a gap year will demonstrate initiative and independence to employers. It is also attractive simply for the range of experiences it delivers.