What employers want and what you can offer

When you’re out there looking for a job it’s up to you to show a prospective  employer how your skills match their requirements.  Of course, your skills are specific to you and every employer has their own particular wish list. But there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when writing your CV or getting ready for an interview.

The Higher Education Academy and the Council for Industry and Higher Education have put together a student employability profile for mathematics, statistics and operational research.  The profile matches the skills you are likely to have gained in a maths-related degree (as compiled and copyrighted by the Quality Assurance Agency  for Higher Education) with those required by employers. It also contains a long list of questions to ask yourself when you are in the process of assessing your skills.  You can read the full profile on the Higher Education Academy’s website.

What employers want:

The following skills were identified as very desirable by employers:

  • The ability to identify and solve problems, work with information and handle a mass of diverse data, assess risk and draw conclusions.
  • The ability to work with others in a team, communicate, persuade and be sensitive to others.
  • The ability and desire to learn by yourself and improve your self-awareness, emotional intelligence and performance. To be a self-starter and to finish the job.  This means that you have to becreative, flexible, tolerant and able to cope with stress.
  • Technical knowledge, for example ability and experience of to working with modern technology.
  • The ability to evaluate and review your own work critically. Participation in quality control and risk management.
  • An appreciation of how businesses operate through having had (preferably relevant) work experience. Appreciation of organisational culture, policies and processes.

Your skills

There are many different aspects to what you have learnt during your degree, and the list put together by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education is long and detailed. But all aspects derive from the following core skills:

  • Knowledge of mathematical concepts and subjects and how to apply them to solve problems.
  • The ability to solve problems, like recognising their essence, putting them into mathematical form, spotting the right techniques to solve them, and interpreting the solution.
  • The ability to develop and evaluate logical arguments.
  • The ability to present mathematical ideas clearly and accurately.
  • The ability to be flexible and apply your mathematical tool set to new problems.
  • Technical knowledge of mathematical software and packages, as well as general IT skills.
  • The ability to go through the mental processes involved in understanding complex ideas.
  • The ability to work independently, making use of resources such as books, technical journals and the internet.