How to showcase your employability skills

What is the magical power some people have that gets them a job with no actual experience in that field? 

The answer is not some magical secret  these job seekers have demonstrated that they have employability skills employers are looking for to make their business thrive.

What are employability skills?

Employability skills, or soft skills, are the personal qualities and attitudes you have that make you ready for work. They are simple skills, like being able to get to work on time and follow orders.

Unfortunately, employers tell us that only 36% of school leavers can show on their CV that they have these vital skills.

"Employers continually tell us that they need young people who are work-ready. If they have the right attitude, technical skills can be taught. We find that students of all levels can achieve at school but still be unready for work."

Warwick Foy, Taranaki Futures.

Let’s explore the employability skills that employers tell us they want.

What are the employability skills employers are looking for?

  1. Positive attitude – A positive attitude is not just about being “bubbly”. It means showing that you’ll happily do the work asked of you, and you’ll stay upbeat when the work gets hard.
  2. Communication – You show good communication skills if you follow instructions well, ask relevant questions when you need additional information or clarification and can articulate yourself clearly.
  3. Teamwork – Playing or working well with others is not just a bonus on the rugby ground or during that science project, it’s something employers value. Can you share the workload, contribue to team conversations and get on well with workmates?
  4. Self-management – Getting to work on time and dressed right is just one part of self-management. Not throwing your toys around when you’re frustrated and managing stress successfully are top skills that will help get you a job.
  5. Willingness to learn – Learning doesn’t stop once you leave school. Employers want to know that you can learn new technologies or new skills. Employers value an an eagerness to learn.
  6. Thinking skills – Employers rate thinking skills the highest when looking at your CV. Do you like to solve problems? Can you make a good decision? Do you think before you act?
  7. Resilience – Have you got grit? When something knocks you down, do you get back up again? This is resilience. Employers need you to have this skill to cope with the times things go wrong at work.

Why are these employability skills so essential to employers?

"The world of work today is remarkably different to what your parents or your grandparents experienced and having great employability skills means you can cope with these rapid changes. Employers want employees who have the confidence, skills and agility to adapt to new technologies, processes and other market opportunities – which will help their business survive and thrive." 

Youth Guarantee website, Employability Skills Framework.

How to show off your employability skills on your CV

Show employability skills in your skills list

Bullet point up to five employability skills on your CV, with an example of how you got them.

  • Problem solving and decision making. Came up with the idea for a startup business and business plan as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme competition.

Show employability skills in your work history

 List volunteer work or paid work experience in your work history in a way that showcases your employability skills.

  • Volunteer fundraiser, Green Light, New Zealand. Used my positive attitude and persuasion skills to convince people over the phone to regularly donate to Green Light.

Show employability skills in your interests and achievements

What you do in your spare time is a powerful indicator to employers of your range of skills.

  • Goal attack for Ferndale Club Netball (teamwork skills)
  • Hold a First Aid Certificate (problem-solving skills and resilience)

How to show off your employability skills in an interview

Your CV has impressed an employer enough to get you through to the interview stage. So how do you make your sought-after employability skills stand out?

Tell us about a time when...

Many employers use the “tell us about a time when…” technique to encourage you to talk about your experiences and it’s an excellent opportunity to knock them out with your awesome skills.

Tell us about a time when you had a customer complaint - examples

  • I listened until the customer had calmed down from shouting (resilience) and asked questions to make sure I understood her right (communication).
  • I asked how she would like the problem resolved – what would be the best outcome for her (willingness to learn).
  • I then thought of what we could do to solve the problem and checked in with my supervisor to see if it was OK (thinking and teamwork).
  • I resolved the complaint and she was happy and stayed a customer. I took a break off the phone for a minute then I got back to work (resilience and self-management).

This article has been provided by our friends at Career NZ.