Class of 2019: Transferable skills – from bar work to a graduate role

University of Leeds 2018 Sociology graduate Alice Whapples explains how her part time jobs have given her a wealth of transferable skills.  She has some tips on how to identify  vital employability skills you have gained from work and study.

Alice is currently an Employment and Progression Assistant at the University of Leeds Careers Centre giving careers support to our Arts, Humanities and Cultures undergraduates.

I often hear people talking about trying to ‘bulk up’ their CV with relevant work experience, or worrying that they do not have enough experiences to talk about in interviews. When I started looking at employment I was exactly the same.

Identifying your skills

Employers are increasingly looking at an applicant’s awareness of the skills they currently possess and an ability to demonstrate them in relation to the job brief. This can seem daunting, especially when you feel like you haven’t got enough experience of the working environment. However, many students don’t realise that skills they have gained through part-time work and during projects at university are transferable for loads of jobs within the graduate labour market.

Skills developed through part time work

Prior to my internship with the Careers Centre, I had worked mostly in retail and hospitality and did not think I had gained the skills needed to apply for a graduate role. I thought ‘how can pouring pints be relevant for working in a professional role?’  When I actually started looking at job descriptions and writing my applications I realised just how many skills I had gained from my part-time employment.  For example, having to deal with a demanding customer who is intoxicated has really helped me develop patience in maintaining a professional yet friendly rapport with customers. Even if your job is not customer-facing, think about the different times you’ve had to work in a team and have been expected to be flexible with whoever you work with.  Another example could be counting and organising a starting float and cash handling at the end of a shift- evidencing responsibility and numeracy skills

Skills developed at university

This is not just relevant for part-time employment, but many experiences you will have had at university could be useful.  While you may not think that a mandatory group project you had to complete as part of your course is relevant to future employment, it is! Being able to give examples of times you’ve worked well in a team- or taken charge of a group project- will help make your application stand out to employers. In addition, with many projects and assignments in the university having strict deadlines, this is a great way to highlight how you can adapt to a fast-paced environment and seamlessly work well under pressure.

STAR helps you shine

And don’t forget to utilise the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) will help you to structure  examples for your CV, application form or at an interview.  STAR will help you to clearly and succinctly explain to an employer where and how you have developed a particular skill and outline the impact you had.  It will keep your example on track and enable an employer to see what you could bring to their organisation.

Remember the Careers Centre can help you to identify and analyse your skills from any type of work experience you have had, so come and access Careers Centre support, we are here to help!  And don’t forget you can continue to access the Careers Centre services once you graduate.

Read more about what is available to you as a member of the University of Leeds Class of 2019


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