What further education can do for you, according to an HR expert

Working in the business, IT or government sectors? Further education will catapult you to success, according to HR expert Nina Mapson Bone.

Whether you’re looking to launch your online fashion business or interested in working in public transport, the business, IT and government sectors are always booming. So, when it comes to getting ahead of the competition to secure the job that you’re passionate about, it's worth it to commit to developing your own skills and gaining further qualifications.

Nina Mapson Bone is the managing director at recruitment firm Beaumont People, and a strong advocate for the importance of further study in improving your employability.

“Further education means technical skills will obviously be developed especially if students pick a course that will help them in the field they want to work in,” explains Nina. “But it’s the practical and networking skills that will make a difference; the behavioural skills learnt through further study due to group work, and collaborating with and learning from industry leaders and other professionals.”

What are your employers looking for?

While a bachelor’s degree is the foundation for employability, further education courses provide you with the experience and qualifications to have you ahead of the curve. Nina explains that even at an international level, employers will push candidates with more qualifications to the top.

“If you have two candidates that are otherwise equal, an employer will always take the one with more qualifications,” she explains. “Internationally, the more well-recognised the course or provider, the more that will stand the individual in good stead. In fact, it may mean better chances of securing a relevant work visa as many countries’ working rights are tied to certain levels of qualification.”

For those looking for careers in IT, Nina says the more experience with software, the better.

“In IT, employers are looking for those candidates that have had experience in the particular software they use, or that can bring specific technical skills such as digital, or AI.”

For government and business roles, Nina explains that the technical skills needed depend on the role. “An accountant might need to have a CPA or a CA and might need to have specific experience in a particular accounting software, while an HR officer might need general HR qualifications as well as quite specific technical expertise in their specific area, for example, industrial relations.”

While technical skills are crucial, Nina advises students not to overlook behavioural skills. “These are the skills that will often determine how successful the candidate will be," says Nina. "The most common skills sought are good communications skills, a proactive and positive attitude, an ability to problem solve and good stakeholder engagement.”

Nina’s tips for mastering further study

  • Manage effectively: “Employers love proactive candidates who are committed to further study but not if it keeps getting in the way of your ability to do your job.”
  • Document your achievements: “Keep a list of your achievements and experiences in your study as you go. That way, you always have it ready to put into a resume if you need to at short notice.”
  • Connect your skills to the specific job: “Learn how to link your study skills and experience to specific job criteria in a job application using key words that the recruiter has used.”
  • Emphasise your strong behavioural skills: “The skills you’re developing in further study are not just technical ones, but also behavioural ones. Think about how you can emphasise those.”

The bottom line

Further study can be quite a commitment - but this investment in your future career is what will set you apart from your competitors. What a prospective employer sees is a proactive, agile and ever-learning professional who isn't afraid of change. It's never too late to return to study and grow your skillset.

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