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If your child is applying for Jobs, Apprenticeships or University they will get asked a lot about their “skills” or “strengths”. This can be daunting, especially because, if they have not worked before and are not big on hobbies, they may think they don’t have any. You can help though by guiding them through the skills they have already gained, without even knowing it, just from going to school.
Below are 10 of the skills most commonly asked for in job advertisements. Many of them are things that are also looked for in possible apprentices and university candidates. We have gone through them to show how each one of these skills may easily have been acquired by your child in their time at school.
Not each child will have every skill on the list but having a few up their sleeve with examples to back them up will really help them in interviews and applications. For each skill we have suggested a possible answer to the question “What are your strengths?”. This question appears on apprenticeship application forms and is commonly asked in interviews.
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1. Oral and Written Communication Skills
- Your child has been honing these throughout their time at school.
- Any essay-based subjects require written communication skills.
- Oral communication skills may have been picked up in class presentations or subjects such as media and theatre studies.
Possible Answer: “I have very strong written communication skills. I have shown this throughout my time at school but particularly in the last year when I received A grades in both my English and History GCSEs. My oral communication skills are also very good. I have frequently had to give presentations as part of my school work and for my most recent I was awarded the top grade in the class”.
- Attention to detail is something both employers and teachers look for.
- Good grades in any subject suggest that your child is detail-orientated.
Possible Answer: “ I have excellent attention to detail. This can be seen from my recent exam results, where I did not drop below a C. I ensured this by double checking all my work and formatting everything correctly so that even when I struggled with the subject itself I never lost silly marks”.
3. Problem Solving
- Problems arise in every walk of life and school is no exception.
- Children may find themselves solving problems associated with their work.
- There are also many problems that occur merely by going to school.
Possible Answer: “I think that one of my greatest strengths is my ability to overcome problems. Whilst at school I ran into a problem with one of my teachers who I believed was treating me unfairly and giving me lower marks than I deserved. Rather than merely sulking or being rude to the teacher in question I asked for a meeting with them. I told them that I thought my marks were undeservedly low and that my contributions in class were being dismissed and they explained that they had merely been trying to push me and helped me to convert my effort into higher grades. The problem was solved without a nasty scene.”
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4. Computer Skills
- This may sound obvious but one of the most in demand skills is the ability to use computers.
- Almost all children know how to use Microsoft packages and are probably better at it than their parents!
- This is definitely something to mention if interviewing to work in an office
Possible Answer: “I am extremely computer literate. Whilst at school I was taught to use all Microsoft Office software and currently use Microsoft Word and Outlook on a daily basis. I am also very skilled in Excel and because of this I received an A in my ICT coursework.”
5. Work Independently
- Any child who has been through exams will have had to have completed coursework, meaning they have had to work independently.
- Homework and projects may also provide evidence of this.
Possible Answer: “I am very good at working independently. My exam results may suggest this is not the case but often I did badly because I simply didn’t understand. This is clear because the only A grade I received was in DT, where 60% of the grade comes from coursework. This shows that when I understand what I am supposed to achieve I can work extremely well on my own.”
6. Management and Leadership
- This is a little more tricky as it does not come directly from school work.
- However, any projects such as coursework for Art, Design, Media or Theatre Studies require project management skills.
- Also many schools run workshops in leadership or teamwork. Involvement in any of these could showcase your child’s ability to project manage.
Possible Answer: “I have recently realised that I have very good leadership skills. My school recently ran a Dragon’s Den style competition where students were put into groups and asked to come up with a business idea and present it. I was made leader of my group and although we did not win we were highly commended. This was a big achievement as I was with other students from the bottom set and we were up against older and cleverer students.”
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7. Organisational Skills
- Whilst at school, one of the biggest lessons children learn is how to organise themselves.
- No matter what their grades, if they managed to do their homework, make it into school and pursue other interests they can definitely be deemed organised.
Possible Answer: “One of my biggest strengths is my ability to organise myself. Last year I had roughly an hour of homework a night as well as revision and coursework for my GCSEs. That I was able to do this alongside my Saturday job and maintain an excellent attendance record shows that I am very organised.”
- This is a skill that children may gain in preparation for GCSEs and other exams.
- It is something that links with their ability to work independently and can be seen in grades for coursework and projects.
- Self-motivation is most clear when looking at a child’s improvement rate.
Possible Answer: “I may not be particularly academically skilled but I am very good at motivating myself. An example of this is the work I did towards my Maths GCSE. In my mock GCSE I received an E grade and was hugely disappointed. Knowing that I needed at least a C to get into college I got up and did something. I signed up to a local free tutoring service, ordered multiple revision guides and completed all the past papers. I worked so hard over the next six months that I got a good C and was able to get into the college of my choice.”
9. Interpersonal Skills
- This is all about teamwork and getting along with people.
- This skill could easily have been picked up in the classroom through class projects.
- It is also something that children learn just by going to school.
Possible Answer: “One of my strongest skills is that I am really good at getting along with people. My grades are not the best and I was not always perfectly behaved at school but this did not stop me being well liked by my classmates, my students and even older teachers. This is reflected by the fact that the headmaster often asked me to show new parents around the school and I was appointed lunch monitor last year, a position elected by students and teachers.”
10. Time Management
- While at school all children are taught how to manage their time and avoid lateness.
- Excellent attendance records and a lack of late submissions are both evidence for good time management.
Possible Answer: “One of the things I am best at is managing my time. I have had to do this throughout my school years because of the variety of extracurricular activities I am involved in. Despite this pressure I maintained a 99% attendance record and never handed in a piece of work late.”