Transferable skills

Why do skills matter?

Most job descriptions include a specific list of skills, attributes and strengths that are needed to take on the role. Whether you are looking for a part-time post or a graduate scheme you will be expected to have at least some of the skills needed to do the job, or the potential to acquire them.

Increasingly employers expect students to have experience of the workplace and be work ready upon graduation. You can find out what skills employers are typically looking for by using the relevant job profiles in the Which Career? section of this website.

How do I know what skills I have?

How do I gain skills?

The good news is you probably have more than you think! The individual skills linked from this page will give you further inspiration for how to boost them further.

You will gain skills through:

  • Your course: Check the course handbook to see what skills you should gain as a result of your studies. Talk to a coursemate and compare notes. What skills do you think you have gained so far? How and when did you get them?
  • Work experience: Includes part-time and vacation jobs, internships and placements, working for a family business, volunteering, work shadowing, insight days and employer visits.
  • Extra-curricular activities: Sports, clubs and societies, hobbies can all count but you need to be actively involved. University commitments like course or hall rep, peer mentoring, business games competitions, prizes and awards are also great.

Develop your skills

The Careers Service has drawn upon employer surveys, student and graduate opinion, and independent research to create skill categories, which we think start to describe students at The University of Manchester.

Curious and Creative

Asking questions; seeking evidence; researching; looking beyond the obvious to reach new ideas; ultimately solving problems. Skills in this category:

Collaborative and Connected

Working effectively with others; communicating meaningfully; listening, leading, influencing and reaching out. Skills in this category:

Proactive and Resilient

Taking risks; doing something new; asking for help; using help available; having courage to take a stand; bouncing back. Skills in this category:

Socially Responsible and Mindful

Adopting a global mindset; fostering awareness of community, other students and diversity; reflecting on self and taking notice of the impact you have; acting ethically. Skills in this category:

Agile and Digitally Capable

Lifelong learning; adapting as needs demand; learning by doing; responding to feedback; developing yourself. Skills in this category:

Technical and Specialist

  • Building specialist skills in your discipline, applying them to real-life problems, communicating them to a lay-audience

Is it a Strength or a Skill?

There is a difference between these two terms in recruitment. A Skill is generally defined as the ability to do something well. But you can be skilled in something which doesn’t really bring you much satisfaction. By contrast, a Strength is defined by employers as something you do well but also enjoy doing. It’s a small distinction, but it makes a big difference to the way you communicate your abilities.