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Based in Northampton, Johnson Underwood are the highly skilled and experienced team you can trust. Established in 1990, our recruitment agency has gone from strength to strength, continuously evolving with ever changing employment sectors to ensure we can provide you with a first class service.   
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EXPERT, PEOPLE-FOCUSSED CONSULTANCY

Together, we bring refined knowledge and experience in a range of sectors including accountancy and finance, commercial and office, sales and marketing, human resources, legal, IT, ancillary support, catering and many more. If you are looking to fill a vacancy, you can rely on our professional team to provide qualified candidates for temp, permanent, contract or interim roles. 

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By Carol Johnson 12 Sep, 2017

Both these transferable skills are important for an employer to know their employees have; it gives them confidence to know their staff will be able to work to deadlines and handle pressure which are elements of almost every job you can think of. Being able to demonstrate you have both these skills is important but even more important, is demonstrating that you can use both, together, to be the most effective and efficient worker you can be. This does not just mean being able to finish tasks on time however, it means being able to plan well, overcome obstacles, progress satisfactorily and meet standards as an employee.

For example, employers may want to know if you have experience in the following areas:

  • Managing short and long-term tasks successfully
  • Meeting urgent and lengthier deadlines
  • Being proactive rather than reactive
  • Adjusting your workload, making compromises and contingency plans
  • Working to particular specifications and allocation of resources

If you cannot think of when you did any of those at work, or you do not have much work experience, then have a think of when could you have demonstrated time management and organisation skills outside of work. For example:

  • Projects
  • Education
  • Hobby
  • Community events

How do these become good time management and organisation examples?

Employers want to know you will be able to find information when they ask for it and that you are able to demonstrate an understanding of the difference between urgent, important, non-urgent and non-important tasks so they can trust you with your workload. As they are transferable skills, you should be able to give a few examples in your CV or interview, so that it gives the employer a well-rounded view of how you manage work.

For example, if an employer asks you to tell them about a time you successfully navigated through a difficult project, they are looking for answers that include how adept you are at adapting to changes or problems during a planned assignment. They will also want to know how you organise your time on the project, how it fits in with other tasks you have and how you have planned contingencies in order to finish the project on time and successfully.

They might also ask you to tell them about a time you have had multiple deadlines to meet; in this instance, they want to know how you schedule and prioritise your tasks so that you can meet targets within timeframes, and to the correct standard.

Another technique is to give you an Administrative (or Filing) Test; this can involve tasks such as demonstrating you can use shared calendars in Outlook or prioritise a work-related to-do list.

What if you do not have any?

If you feel that you have not had the kind of experiences that have required you to use time management and organisation skills, you are possibly overlooking something in your life, outside of work, that you can use! Activities like successfully managing a household, children and budget, developing and delivering a school project, organising a fundraising event or even organising a hen/stag party could be good examples if you have no professional related ones. Activities that demonstrate you can work to a deadline, overcome problems, liaise with other people and have a successful outcome are all relevant but it is important to make sure you then relate it to how you would work in the role you’re applying for.

We’ve already looked at some instances of when good time management and organisation skills are used, let’s look at them in more detail:

·        Managing short and long-term tasks successfully

o  E.g. Demonstrating your understanding for responding to emails in a reasonable timeframe and researching the answer for an enquiry over several days

·        Meeting urgent and lengthier deadlines

o  E.g. Understanding the different way to handle an important enquiry from your manager and a six-month research project

·        Being proactive rather than reactive

o  E.g. Anticipating problems you may encounter and putting strategies in place that can help deal with them if they do arise

·        Adjusting your workload, making compromises and contingency plans

o  E.g. Ability to take on additional tasks, understand their new priority in relation to your current tasks and what tactics you would use to cope with them

·        Working to particular specifications and allocation of resources

o  E.g. Ability to work within guidelines such as a budget or time-constraint, or to be bound by a certain number of staff or supplies

·        Projects

o  E.g. Starting a DIY project at home such as building a patio area before the summer or decorating a room for a new baby that is due

·        Education

o  E.g. Working on several assignments at once that all have deadlines at the end of term, and getting good grades for them

·        Hobby

o  E.g. Organising the materials, cost and time for knitting scarves for friends as Christmas presents

·        Community events

o  E.g. Finding a space to hold an event for a local church, organising the way it would be paid for and being responsible for collecting the donations that will pay for it

Here are some key points on how to give the best answers to a time management and organisation related question:

·        Listen to, or read, the question carefully, what aspects of time management and organisation do they want to know about?

·        Include the goals and outcome when you give your example; did you achieve what you set out to do? What did you learn?

·        If you have any strategies or tactics you use to organise your time, including them in your answer will help back up your example. Skills You Need has a great article on Time Management that shows the Priority Matrix; a fantastic strategy for prioritising.

Do you have any nightmare time management and organisation examples or advice for a strong answer? We’d love to hear from you, leave comments below or share on your Facebook or Twitter!

By Carol Johnson 06 Sep, 2017

Transferable skills refer to the strengths and attributes a candidate has, that are not role-specific but are valuable for the diverse ways they can be used across different roles, departments and industries. Transferable skills are also known as portable or soft skills and differ from, what are known as, hard skills, because soft skills can be developed outside of a professional environment and are just as valuable in one industry, as the next. Hard skills however, are more likely to be developed for the purpose of work and generally do not transfer well into other roles.

For example, a hard skill may be having specialist knowledge of wildlife photography but having excellent soft skills in communication with customers and staff would just as relevant in a retail store or restaurant as a photography studio. The photographer in this example, may have developed those excellent communication skills over a few years, different jobs or even a volunteering position.

Because of the fluid nature of transferable skills, it is possible to see that they are particularly helpful for candidates who do not have much work experience, or are switching careers. Graduates, especially, need to prove they are ready for work after university but face problems when they have a degree but no work experience. For someone who is switching from one career to the next, your valuable transferable skills might help you get your foot in the door if you can prove you are an asset, despite a lack of the specific hard skills required for the role.

Employers look for both hard skills and soft skills in a potential employee and a CV is the perfect starting point to demonstrate that you, as a candidate, are proficient in both types of skills. Most job descriptions will list the soft skills the employer would like to see so next it is just down to the candidate to prove they’ve got them.

Transferable skills really benefit from the STAR treatment (Situation, Task, Action and Result), as they demonstrate your skills best when you can explain a bit about the scenario in which you used the skills, but also, because your example may not be exactly relevant to the role you’re applying to, explaining the results of your actions helps cement your skills.

In this blog series, we’re going to look at 7 of the most important transferable skills, provide some examples of how to get them and look at why they are important.

1.    Teamwork

2.    Time Management and Organisation

3.    Communication and Interpersonal Skills

4.    Problem Solving and Initiative

5.    Customer Service

6.    Information Technology

7.    Leadership


Today we'll be looking at...

1.     Teamwork

There are many, many jobs that require working with people as part of a team; whether it is because you all work in the same department, create a project together or interact with customers as a shop floor team. Demonstrating your ability to work as part of a team gives a prospective employer, a good indication of how well you will work with their existing employees, and, as good team adds value to an organisation, employers know it is important to employ staff with this vital transferable skill.

The interview or CV is a window for the employer to see what candidates can offer as a good team-worker and what experience they have had meeting team goals but the fab part about teamwork is you can gain this skill from all sorts of non-work-related activities as well as professional ones.

For example, employers may want to know if you have experience in the following areas of teamwork:

  • Carrying out an agreed task that contributes to team success
  • Sharing ideas and information with your team, making sure you listen and take other’s ideas on board too
  • Working well with people with a wide range of diversity
  • Inspiring colleagues and giving constructive feedback, as well as receiving it gracefully
  • Tackling problems as part of a group, contributing to the problem solving with the whole team
  • Working on a group project such as a presentation or report, including what you did to ensure success and what you learnt from the project

If you cannot think of when you did any of those at work, or you do not have much work experience, then have a think of when could you have worked as part of a team outside of work. For example:

  • Sports
  • Social clubs
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Projects

How do these become good teamwork examples?

What makes someone a valuable team-worker is their ability to work with others and contribute an important part of the success of different goals so it is important to use examples where you have taken an active role in the success of the team.

What kind of example you use also depends on what kind of role you are applying for, for example, if you are applying for a role in leadership, you would want to use examples of when your leadership skills contributed to the success of the team.

Although some job descriptions will just list ‘teamwork’ as a skill, some will have more specific requirements so it is important you read the job description and person specification carefully. For example, some roles might require working in a creative team that works closely with a budgeting team so in those instances you might want to use examples of teamwork when you have had to diplomatically mediate between people or handle meeting different types of goal.

What if you do not have any?

If you worry that you do not have any experience of teamwork and you think it is affecting your ability to get a job than the best thing to do is create some opportunities to work as part of a team. You could join a social, youth or sports group that uses teams, volunteer at a local community centre or organise a fundraising group with friends.

At work, you could ask to be involved in a group project or suggest one to your lecturers or teachers so others get a chance to develop their teamwork skills too.

We’ve already looked at some instances of when good teamwork skills are used; let’s look at them in more detail.

  • Carrying out an agreed task that contributes to team success. E.g. Researching what you agreed to, to a good standard and in time for the deadline
  • Sharing ideas and information with your team, making sure you listen and take other’s ideas on board too. E.g. Share a proposal but when someone else has a similar idea, constructively discuss how you can make them both work and accept if theirs is a better plan
  • Working well with people with a wide range of diversity. E.g. Acknowledging new ways of working and points of view that differ from yours
  • Inspiring colleagues and giving constructive feedback, as well as receiving it gracefully. E.g. Complimenting colleagues on a good job and giving feedback in a discreet and helpful manner or passing your suggestions onto the group leader if there is one
  • Tackling problems as part of a group, contributing to the problem solving with the whole team. E.g. When you encounter an issue, discuss it with the group and agree actions before taking them so everyone is informed
  • Working on a group project such as a presentation or report. E.g. Including what you did to ensure success and what you learnt from the project
  • Sports - e.g. Being part of a football team working with a coach to create and accomplish a plan for winning a certain amount of games in a season
  • Social clubs - e.g. Working with your fellow Girl Guides or Scouts to follow an orienteering map from one location to another
  • Extra-curricular activities - e.g. Taking part in setting up a fundraising bazaar at a local community centre
  • Projects - e.g. Creating a group presentation with other students or creating a collaborative report as part of a group

Here are some key points on how to give the best answers to a teamwork related question:

  • Keep it recent

Unless you really do not have any other examples, the more recent the better.

  • Keep it relevant

This is more important than recent; if you have an older example that relates to the role, it is usually better to use that, than a more recent one that is less relevant.

  • Keep it short

Don’t get caught in the trap of waffling about annoying colleagues or team members who didn’t pull their weight. Unless it is relevant, don’t go into too much detail about the project, hobby or problem either – stay focused on the question.

  • End it positively

Always try to end with a positive outcome such as good feedback or a promotion. Failing that, end it with what you learnt from the experience and how it has improved your teamwork skills.

Teamwork is not just being part of a team because your teacher put you in that group, it is about taking ownership for the groups success and doing what you can to be an equal, but equally valuable member of the team.




Do you have any nightmare teamwork examples or advice for a great answer? We’d love to hear from you, leave comments below or share on your Facebook or Twitter!




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