What Skills Do I Need?

Now that you’ve decided on a career path, the next thing you need to consider is whether you are ready to enter the workplace immediately, or whether you need to update your skills before you put together your CV and start applying for jobs.

To find out what skills you need, take a moment visit our career pages, which tell you not only what skills you need, but also what knowledge and technical skills are required for your chosen career.

You can also use our snazzy new app iShine to help you identify what skills you need to develop for your chosen career. Just enter your personal information at the start, and you'll be up and running

How/Where am I Going to Develop My Skills?

Once you’ve decided what skills, knowledge and technical skills you need to improve, you then need to think about where you can improve them. There are a number of ways, depending on the amount of time and money you have, plus how much you need to develop, and we've a brief insight into the main ones here:

Online courses

Online courses are a great way to improve your knowledge, skills and technical skills. Our online course database allows you to search online courses from around world, some which you have to pay a small fee or subscription for and some which are free. Some courses take place once a week for six weeks, while others let you learn all in one go. Here is a list of online course which could help you increase your ability in those all important transferable skills:

  • Entrepreneurial Skills
  • Customer Service
  • Written Communication
  • Organisation & Time Management
  • Business Management
  • Teamwork
  • Sales 
  • Problem Solving
  • Judgement & Decision Making
  • Analytical Skills
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Entering the Workplace
  • Negotiation & Persuasion
  • Leadership
  • Research
  • Oral Communication

Volunteering 

The other great way to help you become work ready is through volunteering. You can find opportunities through organisations such as Do It. You can learn new transferable skills, knowledge or work experience that might be necessary for the career you want to move into, for example working with disabled people. Again, you might choose to volunteer for one day a week over a long period of time, or all in one go. 

If you are thinking about volunteering in your local community, before you jump into the next available opportunity, think about how you can make the most of it. Here are a few pointers:

What is your goal? 

What new skill or knowledge do you want to gain from your time? You need to make sure that you seek out meaningful volunteer opportunities that will align with your goals.

Treat your volunteering like a paid job. 

Even if your volunteer work is sporadic, make sure you commit to it. You may want to take on roles with greater responsibility within the organisation. 

Remember to connect with the other volunteers via LinkedIn in the same way you would with work colleagues. You can also add your volunteering experience to your LinkedIn profile and CV, and we will show you how to do this in Week Six.

Put your experience, skills and knowledge to use. 

Regardless of what your background is, you’ve got plenty to offer! This could be something specific, such as marketing, PR or strategic planning, or something more abstract such as using what you’ve learnt in your life to guide others via mentoring. 

Work experience 

You’ll want to undertake work experience or work shadowing if you want a better understanding of a specific industry or sector you wish to work in. Unfortunately, finding a spot can be as tough as looking for paid work, and it involves finding the right companies or people you’d like to work with, getting your CV together and applying to different organisations. This might be through a specific placement scheme, or through emailing an individual directly. 

To help you get your foot in the door, think about your connections. Personal connections, such as family, friends and neighbours, might know someone in the right position, as well as people further afield, such as connections on LinkedIn. In a way, gaining an opportunity is a numbers game and the more people you ask, the better chance you have of getting the experience you are looking for.

If you don’t have any personal contacts, you can also try approaching an employers you’d like to work for yourself. Use social media and the company’s website to find the right person you should be communicating with, whether that’s a member of HR or someone in the team you want to gain experience in. Email them with some relevant information about yourself and your CV, and follow up with a phone call. Although a scary thought, visiting a workplace in person can show that you’ve taken the time and effort to reach out to them and they may be more willing to give you a chance. 

Every time you make a contact, create a spreadsheet of their name, position, company, when and how you contacted them, a reminder to follow up the contact and the outcome of the contact.

Face-to-face courses

Another way to gain knowledge and technical skills is through face-to-face courses which you might study at the weekends, evenings or daytime. They can also vary in length depending on how in-depth they are and the level of qualification you will achieve from them. You can use our College Courses search to find the right opportunity in your area, whilst you can also use websites such as Find a Masters and Find a PhD for higher level qualifications.