June 1, 2018

Top five skills to get you a job

WANT to bump your CV straight to the top of the pile? Start with a vocational education and training (VET) course, designed by industry experts to incorporate practical skills with the latest theories. Along the way, you’ll also learn transferable skills set to make you a stand-out throughout your career, no matter what industry you choose.

Laura Albulario

We’ve teamed up with NSW Department of Industry, Training Services to help you take on your chosen career.

“Transferable skills are the skills that are used in all jobs across all industries,” says David Collins, executive director of Training Services NSW. “They range from foundation skills such as literacy and numeracy, and skills that help us in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving and using technology.” We asked career experts and employers what they value most in job applicants.


Turning up to work with an eagerness to learn and a positive, can-do mindset will make you a valued employee in any industry. 

“We employ apprentices across nine trades, and find that the students who turn up with a good attitude are the ones who really succeed. Be willing to get in there and get your hands dirty. Once you put what you’ve learnt into practice, that’s when it really sinks in. When you show that kind of initiative, people will want to help you.”

Jamie Eid, acting apprenticeship manager, Sydney Trains.


Even if your day-to-day role largely involves working individually, there’s always scope to learn from others and to understand where you fit in a broader picture.

“People don’t operate in silos. There’s a sense of unity and collaboration that comes with working as a team. Feeling like you’re contributing as part of a team is motivating, as you can leverage off other people’ motivation and inspiration. You should never be afraid to ask questions. Two, three or four minds coming together can result in a better outcome or decision. You should understand how to make sensible decisions for yourself, but also be willing to have conversations with others to check yourself.”

Kristie Wilson, executive director of programs, Gowrie NSW.


Whether you’re a tradesperson or a health professional, being able to leverage technology will help you work more efficiently and effectively. 

“It doesn’t matter what role you have or what aspect of the workplace you operate in, tech skills are absolutely critical. Even if it’s a very hands-on job, you might need to use technology to record your work duties, upload photos and use web-based applications. We all want faster service, and using digital tools is how we get it. Job-seekers need an understanding of basic office applications, and should be proficient in mobile technology and social media – it’s the first place employers go when they’re looking at candidates.”

Jai Waters, principal consultant of people insights, Chandler Macleod.


Recruiters generally spend less than 30 seconds skimming through a job application, so solid written communication skills are a clear differentiator. 

“Our written communication tells a reader a lot about us. If there are spelling or grammatical errors, then people assume we don’t have great attention to detail. If the writing style doesn’t match the role, if it’s too casual or too formal, the assumption is we don’t have the skill to adjust to our audience. Don’t forget verbal communication skills like empathy, listening and persuasion. These are among the top five skills that employers look for when hiring candidates.”

Jane Lowder, career counsellor and coach, Max Coaching. 


A recent survey by Hays recruiting experts found adaptability to be among the skills that employers value most highly. 

“It’s human nature to find change uncomfortable, but to survive and thrive in the workforce of today and tomorrow we must not only learn to adapt to constant change, but exploit it to build our careers. As well as keeping up with the technical know-how relevant to your specific job, employers are looking to see evidence that candidates can solve new problems.”

Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand.


All VET courses deliver transferable skills, but you can boost your employability with the following:

– Certificate III in Career Advancement
– Certificate IV in Enterprise and Career Skills
– Certificate IV in Leadership and Management
– Certificate IV in Customer Engagement
– Statement of Attainment in Practical Computing Skills


► VET opens doors to opportunity. VET qualifications offer pathways into more than 500 careers.

► Designed by industry experts, VET is based on the skills that employers are looking for.

► 78 per cent of VET graduates find work after training compared to 69 per cent of bachelor degree graduates.

► Under its Smart and Skilled program, the NSW Government provides quality assurance and subsidised training for more than 700 VET qualifications.

► Fee-free training and a range of scholarships are also on offer for eligible students.

For more information, visit VET.nsw.gov.au

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