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Curtin University of Technology
University Life

Standing out from the crowd

Juggling skills
Employers will be impressed if you've successfully juggled three things successfully - your study, work experience and extra-curricular activities. It's worth including a summary of your academic results in your job application. You'll impress if you can show consistent or improving academic results with a credit average or better. Also include any paid or unpaid work you've done, as well as your extra-curricular activities. Employers are impressed by candidates who lead a balanced life and have developed some generic skills.

Qualifications Vs Experience Vs Skills Vs Attributes
To differentiate between applicants, employers look to graduates who can demonstrate across a range of areas:

Qualifications
Academic results
Employers want candidates who have achieved good results throughout their university course. Some will want you to have a Credit average or above and others will look for consistency of results.

Experience
Work experience
Employers want candidates who already have some work experience. They usually prefer it if you have discipline-specific experience (i.e. work experience that's relevant to your degree). However, they also value other forms of work experience as it shows that you have developed some generic skills.

Extra-curricular activities
Employers favour candidates who are involved in extra-curricular activities such as sporting clubs, student groups, community, music, drama or church groups. These activities show that you lead a balanced life and also demonstrate that you have developed some generic skills such as teamwork or leadership.

Technical skills
As a graduate, you have a unique set of skills and attributes. You will have learned a number of technical skills that are specific to the degree you've studied. For example:
administering medication (Nursing)
using specialist software (Design)
using processes or strategies (Marketing)

Technical competence is obviously important to employers and is often their bottom line when selecting new graduates as employees.

Generic skills
The generic skills that employers most often look for are described below. In your application and interview, you'll need to demonstrate these skills by identifying situations when you've used them.

Communication skills
You need to show that you can listen, as well as communicate verbally and in writing. You also need to show that you can articulate your thoughts and arrange them logically for your audience to understand. Your communication skills also include the non-verbal messages you send when you are speaking or writing to other people.

Team work
In many jobs you will need to collaborate with a team of people. The team may consist of people who work in different disciplines. For instance, a product launch team might include representatives from marketing, finance, engineering and public relations divisions. If you work well as a team member, you will have a beneficial effect on the progress and success of the project.

Analytical skills
The ability to think critically and form conclusions based on information given to you, is often crucial in a job. Whether you are aware of it or not, many jobs require analytical skills, whether it's accounting, computer programming, engineering, legal work or medicine.

Problem solving skills
Problem solving skills are very important. Do you remember the famous detective Sherlock Holmes? He was a good example of a problem solver. You don't have to be a Sherlock Holmes to be considered for a job, however you do need to show that you can resolve problems that are presented to you.

Creativity
Creativity is the ability to think or express yourself in an original or unique way. Creativity allows you to think laterally and see different or better ways of doing something. This skill is extremely useful at work and while you're looking for a job.

Personal attributes
Personal attributes are the qualities or characteristics you have as a person. These attributes can affect the way you work independently or with colleagues. Employers are interested in graduates who have helpful personal attributes like:
motivation and initiative
attention to detail
honesty and integrity
strong work ethic
self-confidence
friendly, outgoing personality
tactfulness
good manners and courtesy
good sense of humour

They're also interested in graduates who have helpful personal attributes. Employers will be particularly impressed if you can identify your best set of skills, what kinds of personal attributes you have, and if you can demonstrate how you have used them before. You also need to know which skills are the most important to you, to the job of interest and to your career.

You don't have to be a superhero
You're not expected to be all things to all employers. However you are expected to understand which of your qualifications, experience, skills or attributes are your most important assets and to express them in your job application and interview.