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Selling your skills to potential employers

Gained a variety of new skills through work experience? Here's how best to sell them to potential employers.

A table full of CVs You've completed the work placements, you've gained the experience, but what's the best way to highlight what you've achieved to potential employers?

In this situation your CV is your gateway, your chance to show employers the skills you've gained and how they will benefit their own company. But what are the most important things to highlight and the best way to do so? Here some recruitment professionals give their advice.

Is it relevant?

Wherever your placement may have been it is important to highlight specific skills you learnt even if the experience doesn't look like an obvious fit for the job to which you're applying.

"Applying for an office job when you have a week-long placement in a shop may not seem useful on your CV - but you can explain that you learnt team work, time management and dealing with a wide variety of people. In many jobs you will have clients that expect great service, and learning this in a shop or restaurant is a great start," enthuses Sachin Shah, director of International at SimplyHired.co.uk.

An insight into industry

Employers look for an insight into their industry just much as your academic achievements. If you've worked in an engineering environment - no matter what level - use what knowledge you have gained to impress.

"In addition to the usual list of skills like teamwork and communication that show employers you have already experienced the world of work in some way, graduates who can also demonstrate problem solving skills and entrepreneurial flair on their CV will stand out from the crowd," says Sarah Kite, work experience business manager at Graduate Prospects.

"If your course involved an industrial placement, highlight any practical engineering skills you've developed in addition to those attained in a laboratory or workshop. If you have undertaken an internship, talk about how the skills you learned can be applied such as managing resources and time," she adds.

Examples of applied success

"All employers are concerned about two things, have you got the basics of what the job and industry requires in place and can you employ theoretical skills in a practical manner," continues Chris Slay, ceo of international recruitment organisation Skills Provision.

"Employers often have little faith in the educational system and don't want to have to start a complete 'apprenticeship' for graduate entrants. Therefore, if candidates can show one or more practical examples of applied success it really helps, i.e. the problem was this, we analysed it taking into account A and B, we delivered the following solution and the outcome was…" he explains.

"The most important things to highlight in any CV are those aspects which will be beneficial to the employer. So, taking the above practical example of applied success, the outcomes should be turned into something measurable - volume/time/money. Equally important is the analysis and practical application to achieve the outcomes," he adds.

Present skills that fit the company's job specification

What employers really want to see is relevant work experience so make sure that you present your skills and competencies that fit with what the company has listed as essential and desirable in the job specification.

"If you have already got some impressive work experience under your belt then make sure that it is on the first page of your CV," says City University London's Professional Liaison Unit. "To enhance this information further, ensure you use verbs and adjectives to make more of an impact. Don't just state that you have analytical skills, state the level i.e. advanced, and relate this to your achievements or projects."