Develop your skills

When advertising vacancies, employers usually outline their requirements in terms of experience, knowledge and skills.  Although the skills needed will vary depending on the type of vacancy on offer, the skills most commonly sought by employers include:

  • Communication: for example, the ability to communicate effectively with colleagues and clients, present information in a group setting and write concisely and effectively.
  • Team work and leadership: the ability to work co-operatively with others is essential in most work settings, and in some graduate roles the ability to support and motivate others will be important.
  • Planning, organisation and time management: These skills relate to the ability to plan tasks or activities and carry them out effectively.  This might include setting goals and priorities, being able to work under pressure and manage your time to meet deadlines.
  • Problem solving: This involves being able to identify the nature of a problem, devise a logical sequence of actions and then generate, evaluate and implement solutions. 
  • Research and analysis: includes seeking out relevant information or data, evaluating and interpreting it and reaching a logical conclusion or recommendation. 
  • IT skills and digital literacy: As well as familiarity with commonly used packages or specialist software related to your field this skill set would include competence in the use of social media.  It also relates to gathering, analysing and arranging information in a logical way.

When looking for work, it is essential to identify the skills you have and then illustrate through your application that you have the skills required by the employer.

Your Careers Portal material “Analyse your Skills” (part of the Self Development module) provides more information on the key skills expected of applicants and how to develop these.  In addition, the University of Reading has produced a useful computer based tool, Skills Transformer which provides a structure to help recognise, write about and discuss skills.  It was designed with science and technology students in mind, although can be used by students of any discipline.  

You will continually acquire and develop skills through your studies but there are also many opportunities to practice and develop skills outside the curriculum – below are some options to consider.

Any type of experience in the work place, whether paid or unpaid, will allow you to gain an insight into the sector and the environment in which the organisation operates and you can develop your commercial awareness as well as an understanding of how to customer needs and manage resources efficiently.  Dealing with customers will allow you to develop communication and problem solving skills, as will coping in situations where events are not going according to plan.  You may be expected to manage your workload to meet deadlines and for some there may also be opportunities to take responsibility for supervising others or for leading on specific tasks or projects.

For guidance on finding opportunities for paid employment visit the Finding Work and Internships pages. The volunteering pages provide information on options in the not-for-profit sector.

Student Ambassadors help at University open days and Higher Education Fairs, visit local schools and colleges to talk about their university experience and actively assist students through acting as mentors.  These activities offer an excellent opportunity to develop communication, influencing and leadership skills, in that you would be involved in presenting information, explaining ideas and supporting and motivating students.  Examples of problem solving in this context might include identifying an effective way to explain a complex idea to a pupil, whilst organisational skills could be enhanced through planning a presentation, or managing time to ensure that you arrive promptly in the correct location.  Recruitment usually takes place in September, see the student ambassador pages for more details.

StARS are students elected by their peers to represent their views and articulate concerns.  Each course will have its own StAR who meets with academic staff to raise issues, contribute ideas and give students a voice in the decision-making process.  In relation to skills development the role therefore provides experience of collecting information, analysing current issues, presenting views in an organised way within a formal context, influencing the decision making process and helping to generate solutions to problems identified.  

This scheme provides opportunities for 2nd and 3rd year students to act as “success coaches”, providing guidance to first years that can help them to develop a better understanding of course content and what is required in assessments, good academic skills and effective ways to be successful students. They work with first year students in small groups and also provide one-to-one advice. This role provides an excellent opportunity to develop confident communication skills, the ability to plan a schedule of meetings, show flexibility in responding to individual needs and a proactive approach to problem solving.  See the PASS scheme pages for details on how and when to apply

These are offered by the Volunteering team within Student Services.   The list of skills covered is wide ranging but typically includes “effective communication”, “dealing with conflict”, “assertiveness”, “meeting skills”, “team development”, “leadership “managing your time”, “project management “and “dealing with conflict”.  Details of workshops on offer can be found on the Careers and Employability Eventbrite page.

If you always wanted to attend one of the skills development workshops but never made it, these online self-learning workshops are for you!
 
They are designed to support your continuing personal development and intended for self-study, requiring just basic resources such as access to a computer, internet, pen and paper (a printer is desirable but not essential). Suggested timings are given for the whole workshops to help you plan your time and help you navigate the session.  Topics currently available are:
 Learn online in your own space and time!

The Student Union supports clubs and societies as well as a magazine and radio station.  It therefore offers a wealth of opportunities to work alongside others, to get involved in student life and to contribute towards the wider university community. Involvement in running a student society might help to develop commercial awareness (through managing a budget for example), or planning and team working skills when organising a series of events.

Londonmet Student Enterprise offers a range of support and advice for those interested in starting their own business. Activities include workshops, events and business competitions.  There are opportunities to discuss your ideas with an experienced business adviser and access funding advice as well as office space (through the Launchpad programme). The University’s School of Computing also organises its own series of monthly student enterprise workshops.  
Participation provides valuable opportunities for developing commercial awareness.  In addition, researching a business idea invariably involves collecting and analysing data and presenting this in a logical manner with the aim of influencing potential investors and customers.  This process could also involve problem solving as your ideas may well need to evolve in the light of information gathered. 

This provides a great opportunity for students to gain an insight into the world of work and to develop awareness of effective communication within a professional context.  Involvement in the careers mentoring programme can also develop organisational skills as you must arrange a series of contacts with your mentor and plan what you hope to achieve during each.  Applications usually open in October/November each year.

CELT (The Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning) provides workshops as well as individual support across a range of study skills.  Areas such as academic writing, critical thinking and delivering effective presentations are included as well as “preparing for study” programmes which cover techniques for successful learning including note-taking, revision, and exam strategy.  Find out more through the Study Hub.

London Metropolitan University has a diverse population with students from over 150 different countries contributing to our rich learning environment.  Download our document on Programmes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students for details of a range of opportunties to allow you to develop your employability skills and help you achieve your career goals.

Toastmasters is external to the university and is a non-profit educational organisation which teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.  There are a number of clubs in the London area.  

The Mindtools website provides an online resource for developing a wide range of work related skills including communication, leadership, problem solving and time management.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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