With very few weeks to go until I hand in the final assessments of my degree, I’ve been saying yes to any opportunity which might improve my skills and CV, ready for the graduate job-seeking process. So before Easter I attended a Careers Service Skills for Success session on ‘Powerful people skills’ run by Nabarro, a big law firm with offices based in Sheffield. I wondered if the session would be tailored towards those heading for legal careers, but many of the students there weren’t interested in careers in law and the people skills discussed could be used in any job.
Skills for Success sessions are designed to be interactive
and involve working in teams to complete tasks, which is great experience for
assessment centres. The first task we
were set was to draw desirable people skills onto an image of a t-shirt. This
got us talking about the different people skills we thought were important, such
as the confidence to speak up and make ourselves heard but also the need to
Next, we watched a short role-play based on an interview for
work experience. We discussed the visual, verbal and vocal aspects of the
interviewee’s behaviour, which included things like eye contact, tone of voice
and pace of speech. A lot of these things
might sound like common sense, but they are easily forgotten in a stressful situation
such as an interview. Their advice was to make an extra effort to check how you
might be coming across to your interviewer, as first impressions are very
Something that was also discussed was personal integrity and
building a personal brand. An important aspect of this is keeping tabs on your
online image, such as your profile on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Employers
may search for your name through these websites, so it’s important to either
make your profile private or ensure it represents your desired ‘personal brand’.
We were also told to ask friends, relatives or teachers to describe us (and
prepare for honesty!). This question is often asked at interviews and any
constructive criticism could be worked on.
Finally, we discussed how to manage differences and
agreement in conversation. We were shown a scale of communication going from
aggressive to assertive to passive/submissive, with assertive being the ideal
level. One useful technique is using an “I” statement for example, “When you do
___, I feel ___”. This is a great way of getting your opinion across
assertively without sounding too aggressive or passive.
The session was fun and informative, and the skills I learnt
could be used in day-to-day life as well as in interviews or with colleagues in
the world of work.
Emily W (Student Blogger)