You’ve Got The Skills To Pay The Bills

Source: Cai Burton

Source: Cai Burton

Cai has had his fair share of time working in retail and customer service and he’s been thinking about the different skills he’s learnt whilst he’s been there and how you may have more experience than you think.

‘But I’ve only just left school… When have I had had to management multiple workloads to a deadline?’

Whenever you’re applying for things, as well as the skills specific to a job, it’s almost as though an employer has a checklist of skills that they are looking for. It’s really difficult to check those things off that list when you’re sat there thinking to yourself, ‘but I’ve only just left school…when have I had  to manage multiple workloads to a deadline?’

It turns out though that you may have a lot more of these skills than you might have first thought. Your every day life is filled with examples of what employers are looking for.

They want someone who can work in a team? Well you did that group presentation in English.

They want someone who can work independently? Then you can show them your geography coursework you spent days chained to your desk working on.

They want you to be on time? In which case, they will love your 97% attendance record (and let’s be honest, it should have been 100% but nobody can help being ill can they?)

So what are some of the basic transferable skills that employers might be looking for? Well here are some of the main ones..

1) Teamwork

Have you ever worked in a group of more than two? Then you know what teamwork is. Teamwork means being able to work alongside other people without ending up killing them and it’s also a super valuable skill to have. It shows employers that they can put you in a room with a load of other people and trust you to work well with them; also because the best ideas come out of group projects. I once entered a space design competition where I had to work with 40 other people over the space of 24 hours. We came up with better ideas in groups than we ever could have done by ourselves.

2) Taking Initiative

Taking initiative means going above and beyond what is required of you and trying something new.  It shows that you’re not just doing things because you have to, but because you want to and you’re interested in it. Whether you’ve set up a band, organized your workspace or just done anything outside your normal school hours or job – all of these are examples of you taking initiative, and shows that you have a desire for what you’re doing. Whilst I was at sixth form I was really interested in art. On top of the work I was doing, I decided to work on my own artwork outside of class. It meant that in my portfolio, I didn’t just have my A-level work, but I had extra work to go alongside it too.

3) Communication

Communication is basically how good you are at holding conversations. The reason employers want someone who can communicate well is because it shows that you can listen to others talk, explain your ideas clearly and take time to think about what you want to say. Communication was the most important skill at the café I used to work at, because you had to get the orders correct. We became expert communicators simply because we had to express ourselves so quickly and under so much pressure that we needed to be as concise as possible.

4) Time Management 

Keeping track of what you’re doing and when seems pretty straightforward, but it’s actually a really useful skill to have. Having good time management skills means that you know how to balance your own work, personal life and interests with other people’s schedules. Being able to show your employers that you can be organised is always a plus. I remember getting my first diary and starting to plan out what I was doing each day – it was amazing how much more organized it made me feel.

5) Customer Service

Anyone that’s ever worked in customer service knows how annoying customers can be – believe me, I’ve been there – but working in customer service means that you’re patient, friendly and confident. Those are all skills that employers love. Employers don’t necessarily want someone that can stand at a desk all day, but they do want employees that can work well with other people. These are the skills you really get from customer service. I spent years working in retail and customer service and before starting there I was so much shyer than I am now.

So it turns out that you can get a load of skills from the unlikeliest of places – don’t be afraid to look at your own life for examples of what employers are after. You have so many skills already that you can transfer from what you’ve already done to what ever you are looking for, it’s just about knowing where to find them.

What do you think? Do you have any of these skills? Are you stuck with writing that application and need help?

Let us know your thoughts at @rifemag

Don’t miss your chance to show off those transferable skills of yours at the Ask About Me networking event, FREE for young people this weekend

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