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Develop Your Skills

Once you have graduated you have demonstrated your ability to study to a prescribed level, however, you will then need to translate that knowledge into the skills required to be a successful member of the workforce.

Many employers report that when they recruit, those people that are not successful are the ones who may have an excellent degree but have failed to demonstrate an understanding of how their skills and knowledge will fit within the wider organisation. But don’t leave it to the last minute, build those crucial employability skills into your practice as soon as possible.

What skills should you develop?

Commercial Awareness

Recognising the aims of a company, its place in the economy, and what it hopes to achieve is crucial as is the ability to see the wider picture beyond the confines of your own role. Knowing the significance of your part in the bigger picture demonstrates that you understand the running of the organisation and how all employees are working towards a common goal. Achieve this by researching the company/organisation thoroughly and knowing their place in a particular industry and also knowing the job role and linking it to other team member responsibilities.

Achieve this by researching the organisation thoroughly, studying their place in the particular industry, and also knowing the job role and linking it to other team member responsibilities.

Next step: take a look at the Business Networking information in Sunderland Futures On Demand.

Imagination and Creativity

Having vision and the ability to translate new ideas into viable business opportunities and plans will, in many fields, be invaluable. This is not about changing for changing sake but bringing new ideas to the table that will bring positive changes into the organisation or provide a new direction or product. This skill is not solely the preserve of the creative industries and will be welcomed in many fields.

Develop this skill by taking a look at How to be Innovative information in Sunderland Futures On Demand.

Adaptability and Flexibility

This is the ability to fit quickly, smoothly and effectively into a new environment or embrace changes in direction or working practice. Employers seek employees who can be flexible in their approach if for example, there is a looming deadline or they are working in a fast-paced, quickly changing environment.

Develop this skill by allowing yourself to, for example, change plans, timescales and adapt your working practice.

Next step: take a look at the Challenges and Change information in Sunderland Futures On Demand

Working Independently and Autonomy

Whilst team working is an essential skill, having the ability to work alone and take responsibility for your individual workload will give an employer confidence in your ability to complete your responsibilities without constant checking and monitoring.

Develop this skill by taking a look at the University Library Service's Skills for Learning Time Management information.


Team Working

Recognising that teams are made up of a variety of different people with different skill-sets is essential. Each member of a team will bring their own skills to the table, whether that is negotiation, leadership, time management or technical skills. There is a place for all of these and to be successful it is important to identify your own strengths and how they benefit the team as a whole and how your skill base will enhance those of the other members. Remember, in any team environment you will have the opportunity to learn from your fellow team members and they from you.

Develop this skill by looking at the University Library Service's Skills for Learning Teamwork information.

Leadership and Delegation

Having the ability to take control of a situation and delegate tasks to the most appropriate team member is recognised and appreciated by employers. This requires the ability to inspire, encourage and demonstrate you have a vision of being successful in achieving the goal. Leadership skills demonstrate your ability to take the initiative and encourage participation and involvement, allowing people to feel confident in their role and expressing their ideas. In addition, recognising who may be the most appropriate person to delegate a task to shows awareness of the skills of others in your team.

Develop this skill by looking at the 'Evolving as a Leader' information in Sunderland Futures On Demand

Communication Skills

This is the ability to present yourself clearly and be easily understood, using a preferred means. This covers oral communication, writing and listening, as well as digital communication methods. When considering communication skills be aware of other factors such as body language, the audience and their ability and awareness to take on board suggestions and always be willing to accept feedback from others.           

Develop this skill by looking at the University Library Service's Skills for Learning section on Giving Presentations and Improving your Writing.


Numeracy skills are relevant even if your chosen career route is not predominantly maths-related. Everyday ability is still a sought after requirement, and often recruitment selection processes may require you to demonstrate a certain level of ability.

Develop this skill by looking at the University Library Service's Skills for Learning Maths resources.


This is a demonstration of being able to prioritise important tasks and schedule responsibilities according to demand and timescales. Managing your workload effectively will highlight to employers you are able to identify what needs to be done and also how you approach this will be key.

Develop this skill by looking at the University Library Service's Skills for Learning module on Time Management.


Employers not only look for candidates who can quickly come up with solutions, they also want to see your approach to it, and this includes interactions with colleagues and peers. Whilst recognising the urgency are you able to maintain a level of calm and focus?

Develop this skill by:


Knowing your role and recognising your own skills and abilities will allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and area of expertise. It is always important to do this without appearing arrogant. Remember, as a graduate you have demonstrated you have the ability to work to a prescribed level and in your assessments shown you have understood your studies and content. Securing employment after graduation is your opportunity to demonstrate that your investment in your future has been successful and you are ready to use the knowledge, skills and experience you have acquired thus far.

Develop this skill by:

Digital Competence

Regardless of your occupation, there are very few careers that will not require a level of ability in IT and computer use. Social media usage is also vastly increasing across sectors and computer usage is far reaching.

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