Student Experience: Unlocking your employability event

In February 2017, the College of Arts and Law collaborated with various colleagues from across the university and the Guild on an employability event that brought together sessions and information on soft skills.

 

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the skills which people acquire through all kinds of activity.  This may be through a programme of study, but it is often also through extra-curricular activity such as volunteering, being an active member of a society, engaging in a particular hobby, or through work experience or travelling. 

Can you give me some examples of soft skills?


  • Showing commitment
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Adaptability / flexibility
  • Tenacity
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Commercial acumen
  • Time management
  • Lateral and critical thinking skills
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Teamwork, ability to work in a team / cultural fit
  • Emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Confidence and assertiveness
  • Basic computer skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Global outlook 

Why are soft skills important?

Employers may specify that you need a degree, but more and more, they are equally looking for people who have the subtler skills which will dictate that they approach a role in an effective way.  So, whatever activity that you engage in, it’s important to tease out which skills you are developing. 

It may be that you are purely doing something for pleasure, but if you think about it more reflectively, you might conclude that you have gained some useful skills as well and, when writing applications or attending interviews, being able to use these examples can be invaluable.

Some soft skills can be taught and you may have some naturally on account of your personality.  However, it might be that you need to work on others perhaps by finding opportunities or choosing activities specifically.  So, for example, when working in groups, you might choose to lead when normally you would let someone else.  Or, you might apply for internships with certain companies to boost your commercial acumen.

Do I need to develop a very wide range of soft skills?

Everybody has their own strengths and there are some soft skills (such as time management) that are arguably relevant to all jobs.  However, it is likely that if you research the careers that you are most interested in, the most relevant soft skills for that profession will become apparent and then it is those that you should focus on. 

If you’re not sure about what job you want to do, starting by thinking about which soft skills you think you already have in abundance and then looking at it from the other way round, may also be helpful.

 

Sessions in more detail: 

Academic Skills Centre - Session on time management

Guild of Students: student activities

International Relations

Developing a Global Outlook – summer opportunities

Developing a Global Outlook – the year abroad

Careers Network

Session on presenting skills in CVs and applications

Student Services

Session on handling difficult emotions

Academic Writing Advisory Service

Session on employability

Session on email etiquette