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Advent Calendar advice Employers Interviews personal skills Skills

Gradfest 2021: Personal Skills Audit

Personal skills

Organisation

Time keeping 

Time management

Planning 

Self-motivation

Work quickly/ accurately

Using initiative

Coping with stress 

Self-awareness

Working to deadlines 

Multi-tasking

Prioritising

Working under pressure 

Assess and evaluate my own and others work 

People skills

Team work

Customer service skills Leadership

Interpersonal skills Communication (oral and written)

Presenting/ Making speeches

Networking Negotiating

Handling Complaints

Management/Supervisory experience

Persuasiveness and influencing

Technical Skills

Collecting and analysing data

Foreign languages

Technical skills/ Knowledge specific to industry

Use sign language

Write reports 

Occupational area specific knowledge/ information

General skills

Problem solving

Decision making

Numeracy

Arrange events and activities 

Business/Commercial awareness

I.T.Skills

Identifying/evaluating options 

Editing/summarising information

Identifying problems (troubleshooting)

Qualities Sought By Employers

Enthusiastic/willing to learn 

Honest Reliable/dependable 

Resilient

Creativity

Can accept criticism 

Hardworking 

Conscientious 

Sensitive to others

 Assertive 

Friendly/likeable 

Outgoing 

Driven/ambitious 

Independent

Proactive

Cooperative

Trustworthy

Fair 

Patient/Calm 

Energetic 

Socially confident 

Optimistic 

Respectful

Polite

Original

Detail orientated

Adaptable/flexible

Able to take responsibility

REMEMBER – when saying you have certain skills you need to be prepared and be able to demonstrate HOW you have EFFECTIVELY used this skill

Some sources of examples:

Placements/internships

Part time Jobs/ holiday work Voluntary work

DegreePlus

Practical/Technical knowledge Project/ research work Student representation

Clubs and societies Enterprise programmes Courses and Seminars

Sports

Music

Drama

Travel Languages Charity Interests

Anything that involves teamwork or skill will be highly desirable

Find out more about how you can develop your personal skills on our website. 

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Advent Calendar advice Commercial Awareness personal skills Skills

Careers Advent Calendar: Understanding Commercial Awareness

Employers often look for commercial awareness in candidates. Here are three things we learned from the Open University’s free Commercial Awareness course:

1. How to understand an organisation and how it creates value

When researching an organisation, you shouldn’t just look at what an organisation does, but how it does it; explore the activities and processes within an organisation. From the outside, two organisations may appear to be delivering equivalent services or products in the same way. They may have broadly similar suppliers and workforce sizes, their location and other large-scale features may even be comparable. Yet the costs incurred by processes inside these two apparently similar ‘black boxes’ may be vastly different. So, although what goes into each organisation and what comes out may seem pretty much the same, the ways in which they create value could be radically distinct.

2. How to understand an organisation’s value

An organisation is a machine for adding value. In its simplest form this means it takes an input at one value and, if successful, converts it to an output at a higher value.

The concept is seen most clearly in manufacturing, where raw materials are worked on to produce finished goods that customers value and are prepared to pay a premium for. Whilst the raw materials or components already had worth, the process of manufacturing added more value.

Commercial awareness means being aware of how change to one aspect of an organisation’s system can have disproportionate, far- and wide-ranging impacts on many other components.

3. Where you fit in in the value chain

The course mentions three components in the value chain: 

  • creativity: coming up with a new product or process
  • manufacturing: churning out the product (this is the tangible part of the chain but it adds less value than you might think)
  • marketing, branding and advertising.

When it comes to applying for a position within an organisation, ask yourself

  • Does your role fit neatly and exclusively into one of these three stages?
  • In terms of a value chain are you closest to the ‘inputs’ or the ‘outputs’ of your organisation? (Roles close to the input end might be procurement, enquiries, goods received, etc., those nearer to the output end might be invoicing, delivery, after-sales services, etc.).
  • We talk of a value ‘chain’ – but to what extent does a linear chain (receiving work and passing it on, with added value) represent your work situation? 

Reflecting on the above will help you demonstrate your commercial awareness to a potential employer. 

Access more useful resources to build your commercial awareness on our website

Categories
Advent Calendar Leadership personal skills Skills

Careers Advent Calendar: 15 Skills That Make a Good Leader

  1. Honesty and integrity

2. Confidence

3. Inspire Others

4. Commitment and Passion

5. Good Communicator

6. Decision Making Capabilities

7. Accountability

8. Delegation and Empowerment

9. Creativity and Innovation

10. Empathy

11. Resilience

12. Emotional Intelligence

13. Humility

14. Transparency

15. Vision and Purpose

Read more about the 15 leadership skills here

Discover more about leadership on the skills section of our site. 

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Advent Calendar advice communication skills personal skills presentations

Careers Advent Calendar: 5 quick tips for effective presentations

  1. Prepare – think about the audience, what you want to achieve, and create a rough outline of what you need to include and what visual aids you will use. Presentations vary in formality so try to get a sense of what your tutor expects in advance. 

2. Organise – a presentation, like an essay, needs an introduction/overview, main body with clear sections and a conclusion to reinforce important points. A good presentation needs interesting content. Think about how much information you can adequately cover in the time that you have. 

3. Deliver – use notes, cues and prompts (rather than reading word-for-word from a page) and speak to the audience (not to your page!) Look around the room, make eye-contact with the audience, if you can, and speak slowly and clearly. Think about your posture and voice. 

4. Visual aids and handouts – spend some time working on a complementary and informative way to present your information and highlight the main points. This often includes PowerPoint’s: use a large font size, avoid more than six points on a slide and use colour, pictures or graphs to keep your slides interesting. If you are using handouts, avoid large lumps of text; keep these brief and informative too. Be sure to refer to specific slides or sections of the handout in your presentation. 

5. Deal with nerves – A presentation is a performance. To control your nerves, be well-prepared: keep practising and then practice some more! Make a one-to- one appointment to practice in front of a tutor or ask a friend to watch you practice. Make sure that the presentation runs to the right time. Use confident and friendly body language to convey that you are relaxed. Use a clear voice and speak loudly enough. Slow down – it is natural to speed up if you are feeling nervous but breathe and take pauses. 

Want more communication tips? Visit the skills section of our website. 

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Advent Calendar advice group projects group work Learning development personal skills Teamwork

Careers Advent Calendar: Succeed in Group Work – Despite Social Distancing

Tips for the first meeting 

✔️ Make a positive start: Smile, ask questions, offer suggestions, make notes, talk predominantly about your group project 

✔️ Introduce each other: Some people might not know each other 

✔️ Take time: Don’t rush into the first meeting, first impressions are important 

✔️ Identify the task: Make sure everyone understands the assignment and what is needed to successfully complete the group work i.e., read the assignment instructions together


✔️Agree on rules: Everyone should be clear on what to expect, how to contribute and what happens if he/she does not participate appropriately


✔️ Identify areas of expertise: Who is good in what? Look up Belbin’s Team Role Inventories to help you with that process 

✔️  Identify common practice: Who will be taking notes, who are you going to decide on things? 

✔️ Make a plan: In one of the earlier meetings agree on a schedule e.g., when is what finished by whom? 

✔️  Have a set agenda: Agree at the beginning of the meeting what issues need to be addressed 

✔️  Be organised: Leave the meeting knowing what each of the group members has to do 

✔️  Evaluate: Start off the meeting with a summary of what has been achieved so far 

✔️  Be democratic: Let all people have a say and be polite to each other 

✔️  Keep records: Keep clear records of meetings and attendance and make sure there is a record of who has done what 

Things to consider 

✔️ Before you submit or give the presentation make sure
you’ve met all the demands set out by your lecturer or school 

✔️ In case you are asked to work on a written assignment be aware that in should be a coherent piece of work i.e., allocate who will proofread, who edits the paper, how are you referencing, what kind of abbreviations etc. you will use 

✔️ Email communication can be a challenge. Be aware of
your tone of voice as written words can often sound harsher than intended 

Group work will be successful if you… 

✔️ Have clear objectives, agreed goals and allocated roles 
✔️ Reach agreements at most meetings
✔️ Complete tasks as agreed
✔️ Are all participating 
✔️ Are listening to each other
✔️ Generate an open and trusting atmosphere 
✔️ Allow opinions to be questioned
✔️ Respect each other
✔️ Use your time effectively
✔️ Have a systematic approach to discussion 
✔️ Regularly review the process
✔️ Share information
✔️ Can keep up a good communication 

Group work will go wrong if you… 

✔️  Are wasting time 

✔️  Are not taking the task serious 

✔️  Have no clearly articulated roles and tasks 

✔️  Have a weak leadership 

✔️  Lack planning 

✔️  Have no clear agendas 

✔️  Lack support 

✔️  Isolate certain group members 

✔️  Are going into too much procedural detail 

✔️  Shot down ideas of each other 

✔️  Lack innovation and communication 

Learn more about Teamwork and other vital personal attributes to develop at university