How to prove you have the skills to advance your career

  • Deakin University
  • 2 October 2018

Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate. Every day spent working hard in your career builds new skills in areas like communication, team building, problem solving and time management. But how do you prove it when it comes to taking the next step?

You’ve grown since graduation

A while back, you donned your graduation cap and walked into your new career—alongside dozens of others. You worked hard. You learned heaps. You applied your education to a real-life situation. Your degree from a great university helped you to find the job, but you have so much more to offer now.

Perhaps you’re now eyeing off a shift to a more senior role or considering postgraduate study. How can you differentiate yourself from candidates with the same qualification as you?

DeakinCo. Product Engagement Specialist, Sophie Lanyon, says a professional credential is a great way to prove your dedication to advancing your career. ‘It shows a commitment to continuous learning,’ she says. ‘A candidate with Professional Practice credentials on their CV is serious about personal development and they know the value for an employer, too.’

Make your soft skills shine on your CV

Remember when you were looking for your very first job, before you had any experience? Maybe your careers counsellor told you to write ‘hard working’ or ‘team player’ on your CV in lieu of any career history.

As a professional, it’s not so easy. You want your CV to show a potential employer what you’re capable of, but how?

Besides following these five tips for a great CV, highlight your ‘soft skills’. They are the ones you can transfer to other jobs and organisations. They might be anything from knowing how to communicate in an email, to being a critical thinker or having a strong work ethic—and they can be very hard to quantify.

When you add your recent roles to your CV, identify the soft skills as well as the hard. Absolutely talk about projects you worked on and big wins. Definitely share your responsibilities and relevant tasks. But don’t forget to include the rest. Did you manage an external stakeholder relationship? Communication skills. Did you participate in a group project? Team building. Juggled multiple priorities? Time management. Joined the company’s Dry July team? Fundraising and positivity.

You can even go one step further with Professional Practice credentials. For example, Deakin University now offers courses so you can evidence the skills you’ve learned on the job. Instead of simply hoping a potential employer believes your own words on your CV, you’ll have validation from a recognised learning institution.

'A candidate with Professional Practice credentials on their CV is serious about personal development and they know the value for an employer, too.'

Sophie Lanyon,
DeakinCo., Deakin University

Take the time to understand your skills

A common challenge facing professionals is actually knowing what makes them special. Many say they struggle to find time to reflect on their career and what they’ve learned—and that makes it pretty hard to articulate to someone else.

Lanyon says this activity is vital to being clear about what you can offer as you move to the next stage. ‘Seeking Professional Practice credentials is an opportunity to take time to reflect,’ she says. ‘Participants benefit not only from the recognition but also the requirement to think critically about what they know.’

Talk it up!

It’s also important to consider what each employer or institution is seeking. Every role is different. Which skills will be most relevant in this role? What have you learned that applies to this interview?

Here’s a secret: the interviewer wants you to succeed. Of course you’ve prepared yourself by reading up on interviewing tips, but how can you showcase your less obvious attributes?

Everyone knows the classic questions. When were you challenged at work? What is your biggest weakness? Instead of giving the answer they expect, use them as an opportunity to highlight what makes you great beyond your technical or vocational skills.

Were you challenged by inter-office relationships? Perhaps it helped you to become a better problem solver. If you know you’re weak in leadership skills, maybe you’ve honed them—and shown initiative—by volunteering to manage a project. Interviewers are hoping you’ll have those hard-to-describe virtues as well as technical ones. That’s how you become the person they want to hire.

Employment and postgraduate study are competitive. Your education alone may not be enough to differentiate you from the next candidate. Learning to demonstrate your skills— and support them with evidence like Professional Practice credentials—means you’ll come to understand where your strengths lie, and race ahead of the pack.

If you’re ready to set yourself apart from the competition, evidence your expertise in Communication or Teamwork in short courses on FutureLearn.

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