Making your skills count

Worried you don't have the right experience? Graduate Analyst, Chris Frost, offers his advice on making the most of your life skills.

My name is Chris Frost, also known as a variety of other permutations of the word “Frost”! I’m a British Gas graduate analyst currently on my second placement in Energy Pricing and I’m going to talk about how you can build up strong skills from anywhere in life to help in a professional job – even if you haven’t secured any professional work experience.

Don’t worry if you don’t have industry experience

You don’t necessarily need to have had a year in industry or an internship to secure a place on a graduate scheme or other professional role after university. I was very worried during my gap year that my lack of relevant work experience might put me at a disadvantage; however, I quickly discovered I had a great variety of transferable skills, gained from other activities, which employers valued just as much.

Even if not industry-specific, I’d strongly advise that you do have some kind of work experience to fall back on. It demonstrates that you can live up to the responsibilities that any job requires – for example, time keeping – and  is sure to come with its own unique mix of transferable skills.

During my time at university, I worked for B&Q as a kitchen designer and salesman – a job which I carried on during my summer and gap year. I can honestly say that I talked about this more than my chemistry degree during the application and interview process. From part time sink flogger to analyst – not bad!

Use your interests to stand out

Don’t underestimate the value of what you do in your personal time; your hobbies and interests can make you stand out from the crowd. Employers will be impressed if you can demonstrate transferable skills from your academic, work and personal life. I normally have a few creative projects to work on in my spare time. This has included everything from DIY, to restoring motorbikes and creating replica movie props.

These additional experiences really made the difference when answering interview questions such as ‘give me an example of when you have created something’ or ‘tell me about a time you have taught yourself a new skill’. Being able to talk about how I went about teaching myself these hobbies went down well – even if I did look a nerd for wanting to build my own Iron Man costume!

In short, whatever you decide to do during your summer, whether it includes charity work, travelling, working or pursuing hobbies, try to make a note of what you are learning from it. This way you can have fun, and demonstrate all of the competencies life has taught you along the way!