What are skills?
Skills are things you learn which help you to do things. You might learn new skills through work, study or things you do in your spare time.
Your skills are important because they help you show an employer why you should get a job. If you’re able to recognise and talk about your skills, you’ll find it easier to do things like write a CV or answer interview questions.
Types of skills
There are lots of ways of talking about skills. To make it easier, we’ve developed four categories which will help you understand where your skills lie.
- People and communication – skills which involve talking and listening, explaining things or working with others
- Practical – hands-on skills, such as fixing or building things, or conducting experiments
- Thinking – like problem solving, research or coming up with ideas
- Organisational – skills which help you plan and arrange things and work within deadlines
Identifying your skills
You already have lots of skills – and they don’t just come from jobs. You’ll also have developed skills at school, college or uni, at any clubs or teams you attend. You’ll have picked them up during volunteering, work experience placements or internships. Even at home, think about skills your parents or friends have taught you.
For example, if you’ve had a job where you had to work to strict deadlines, you’ll probably have good time management skills. If you’ve been part of a debating club, you’ll have developed your communication and persuasion skills. If you play football, you’ll have learned teamwork and leadership skills.
Look back over your work, studies or leisure activities and think about the tasks you completed in each. This helps you identify the skills you've learned.
Choose your skills
The top transferable skills employers want
Transferable skills are skills which you can use in lots of different jobs. We picked five common skills employers want to see on your CV.
Finding solutions to problems
You can look at a situation and understand what’s causing a problem or issue, then develop a solution. You’re not put off if something goes wrong.
Taking the lead
You take responsibility for your own work and don’t wait to be told what to do. You’re motivated and look for ways to improve things.
Planning and organising
You’re good at deciding which tasks are important. You make plans to make sure work gets done, and avoid distractions.
Working as part of a team
You’re great at cooperating with other people. You understand how you can contribute to your team, and support other team members.
Communicating with people
You explain your ideas and opinions clearly. You’re good at listening, presenting or being able to persuade others.
Skills at work
We asked people what skills they need in order to do their jobs.
Find out what solicitor Calum Beattie, reporter Nicola McAlley, graphic designer John Harfield, primary school teacher Rachel MacPherson, and medical pathologist Rashmi Lahiri had to say.
Developing your skills
There are lots of ways to develop new skills, or build on your old ones.
If the skill is linked to your job:
- Offer to take on a new task that would help you develop your skillset
- Ask to work on projects with other teams
- Shadow someone if you want to learn more about the skills they use in their job
- Sign up for training or workshops that would help you strengthen your skills
If you’re trying to pick up skills that would be relevant to a job you want:
- Get some work experience or try volunteering in a relevant role
- Look for other extracurricular activities, like evening classes or joining a club