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So, you’ve decided to return to work after a career break to raise a family, or you’ve decided to change careers, or you might be a young adult hitting the job-market for the first time. If you don’t have any recent work experience, or no work experience at all, how are you supposed to address some of those all-important selection criteria?

It is important to identify your own strengths through a range of transferable skills – a core set of skills and abilities that are not specific to a role or industry but can be taken from job to job. But you will need more than that.

Here’s the thing – don’t underestimate your life skills, such as experience gained through volunteer positions and community work, sports and hobbies. Let’s look at just a few of the common Key Selection Criteria (KSC) and some examples of how you might fit the bill.

Effective communication skills

What you can demonstrate

Student/school leaver/young adult 

  • Captain of a sporting team
  • Member of school Debating Team
  • Helped to train younger members at a Surf Life Saving Club

Mature adult/career change/return to work

  • Interaction with customers
  • Made a presentation to my study group/TAFE class
  • Prepared flyers and write the monthly newsletter for my volunteer organisation.

Ability to work in a team

What you can demonstrate

Student/school leaver/young adult 

  • Worked as part of a team to deliver a school project
  • Member of fundraising committee for sporting club
  • Care for younger siblings and help plan the family schedule

Mature adult/career change/return to work

  • Worked with other volunteers in a community group, e.g. Meals on Wheels, Rotary
  • Sporting club secretary, treasurer, trainer or coach
  • Emergency Services volunteer, e.g. Rural Fire Service

Skills in technology and IT

What you can demonstrate

Student/school leaver/young adult 

  • Use technology for school-work or online learning
  • Teach other family members to use new equipment, e.g. computers, iPpads, smartphones
  • Create websites and manage social media accounts

Mature adult/career change/return to work

  • Internet banking, e-commerce
  • Design and distribute e-newsletters for community group
  • Conduct research on the web and creating complex documents for family history project

Financial management skills

What you can demonstrate

Student/school leaver/young adult

  • Advanced mathematics student
  • Cash handling duties through part-time employment at McDonalds
  • Completed a Cert III in Accounts Administration at TAFE

Mature adult/career change/return to work

  • Volunteer manager of school canteen
  • Prepare BAS Statements for home business
  • Treasurer of sporting association

Ability to plan, organise and meet deadlines

What you can demonstrate

Student/school leaver/young adult 

  • Enrolled in online study course and submission of all assessment activities by due dates
  • Planning the steps of a school project, drafting the layout and complete on time
  • As a member of my school’s student leadership team, I have helped organise many fundraising and social events

Mature adult/career change/return to work

  • Planned major fundraising activity for community organisation
  • Completed a Certificate IV in Business Administration in 6 months
  • Prepare and distribute Meeting Papers for Social Tennis Club

Now it’s your turn to think about what life experience and life skills you can match to these examples, and then demonstrating these skills by using the STAR Method when creating your job application and when answering questions in an interview. The STAR acronym stands for “Situation, Task, Action, Result” and can be a very effective way of describing your strengths, skills, and experiences to a potential employer.

So, take the time to consider everything you can bring to the table – a skill is a skill, no matter where it is acquired, and employers will be looking for people just like you.