75% of employers place at least as much emphasis, if not more, on employability skills than they do on technical skills
(Department of Jobs and Small Business 2019)
Updated for 2023 with corresponding teaching activities
The toolkit has been created by the Flinders University Careers and Employability team for Flinders educators to improve student preparedness for the 'world of work' and to improve their skills, knowledge, confidence and connections in managing their careers.
The 11 tasks – now mapped to 14 corresponding teaching activities – bring together foundational career education and navigation activities building student knowledge and skills from broad sector understanding and exploration, to deepening knowledge of 'self' (strengths, values, skills) and sector, and finally, to job application tasks.
Each task has been mapped against key employability skills valued by employers – communication, teamwork, digital literacy, problem solving, critical thinking, initiative and enterprise – to remind students that they are picking up valuable skills during their study.
Each activity has been prepared by the Flinders Careers and Employability team to augment learning in the classroom setting and to provide teaching staff with additional tools to support career development learning.
To maximise flexibility, they have been designed to operate as an integrated but adaptable set. For example, for a single degree area, they could be introduced to students at each year of study. Alternatively they may be adapted for a stand-alone employability subject, or several tasks selected for embedding in a particular discipline-based topic.
Optional rubrics or marking guides with detailed assessment criteria have been provided for each task to support graded or non-graded assessment; teaching staff are encouraged to use these as a guide and adapt them for purpose.
Contributors: Dr Jenny Barker, Margaret Alexander, Rianna Lopez, Barbara Doherty
Adapted from: 11 tasks adapted from IRU Employability Assessment Toolkit
National Skills Commission 2019 Survey of Employers’ Recruitment Experiences: 2019 Data Report, Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Canberra
Interested in incorporating tasks into your teaching? Got some feedback?
We are keen to work with you to ensure these tasks can be adapted and integrated into your teaching to support your student needs. Contact the Careers and Employability Service email@example.com or 8201 2832 for resources, support and ideas for improvement
“Simply speaking, the toolkit is very relevant to some content of these two topics. It can also help improve students’ job search skills.”
Dr Vipul Pare, BGL Teaching Program Director
“Thanks for creating this resource! I believe it will be very helpful.”
Dr Jessica Genauer, BGL Lecturer and Honours Coordinator
"The toolkit has been valuable in informing the career planning topic in the Research Employability Skills Training program."
Megan Prideaux, Office of Graduate Research
“The toolkit provides a good, consistent foundation for building employability into teaching and complements our existing efforts in STEM in providing students with real world experiences"
Dr Liu Fei Tan, Lecturer, Biotechnology and STEM
"The resources were excellent both for the students, myself and the tutors to be able to guide students to write a successful and professional cover letter."
Dr Claire Gough, Lecturer, Health Sciences
|Focus area||Teaching activities||Corresponding task|
|LinkedIn Profile||Coming soon…||
LinkedIn Profile including 200 word ‘About’ section and make connections
Identify organisations of interest
Careers file and 500 word summary
|Deepen knowledge of self and sector||Strengths, Values, Interests and Careers||
5 minute oral presentation and 1000 word reflective summary
Interview and 800-1000 word reflective summary
|Employability and Technical Skills||Audit your skills||
1000-1500 word reflective essay
|Build a graduate profile||Job Advert Analysis & Organisation Research||Analyse job advert and research organisation||
Table mapping skills/knowledge/experience to evidence
|Cover Letter||Deconstruct the cover letter|
|Selection Criteria||Introducing STAR and creating your brag file|
|Job Interview (Option 1 Face to Face Interview)||Coming soon…||
6 minute oral, face to face interview
|Job Interview Option 2 (Video Interview)||6 minute pre-recorded video interview|
Each resource provides rationale, links to supporting materials, and a rubric which was perfect for quick adjustments and inclusion in the Statement of Assessment.
Dr Helen Stephenson, BGL Topic Coordinator
Dr Helen Stephenson applied several toolkit tasks to the Business topics she was coordinating in 2020-21 reaching around 60 students.
As these topics are largely about preparing students for industry placement Helen elected to use the Resume and LinkedIn tasks allocating 10% of her overall assessment to each.
Three other pieces – Job Advert & Organisational Research, Cover Letter and Selection Criteria – were optional with students provided a choice of these or doing a presentation or report around their WIL placement.
An experienced champion of WIL, employability and authentic assessment, Helen particularly appreciated the opportunity to augment the students’ exposure to real world experiences and she noted that the supplied rubrics considerably streamlined the assessment process.
Helen elected to make a few adjustments to the rubrics, grouping some items and adjusting weighting. For the optional job advert/cover letter/selection criteria pieces she also felt that it would have been better for the Topic Coordinator to provide suitable position descriptions as students selected a mix, including vague advertisements. This is an area that the Careers and Employability team could further support providing appropriate marketing, accounting and finance examples to help set expectations.
Student response was difficult to evaluate as there were no specific questions provided in the SETs and Helen felt this might be something that could be added in future. She noted an increased number of students elected to take on the Selection Criteria or Cover Letter tasks in Semester 2.
Helen reported personal benefits too, picking up some tips to improve her own LinkedIn profile. She also found the exposure to multiple student resumes helped her better appreciate the range of student experience and accomplishments.
Topics: BUSN3044, 3044B, 3060, 9126, 9127, 9128
Dr Jessica Genauer elected to use toolkit tasks for two topics in 2021 – one in Government, the other in International Relations – collectively reaching 40 students.
The toolkit appealed to Jessica for two reasons.
“Firstly, it provides a framework for the development of essential skills that all graduates require. Secondly, it provides ready-made ideas for assessment items that are very easy to use 'off the shelf' or adapt for a specific topic. This is attractive because – if employability skills are assessed – it is much more likely that all students will engage in the activity and develop the required skills.”
With the third year Government students undergoing placement she adapted the Face-to-face interview task seeing it as an opportunity to increase their professional competency. Jessica’s assessment instructions borrowed directly from the toolkit and introduced the STAR method for responding to interview questions. Students selected a job that they thought they could realistically apply for and developed questions based on the selection criteria. Each student then played both the interviewer and interviewee role in simulated interviews. In a reflective report students further considered how they performed; the key lessons they took from playing interviewer/interviewee roles; and ideas for improving or better articulating their skill set based on the session feedback. Assessment was 20% with 10% for preparation and participation and 10% for the reflective essay.
With the second year International Relations topic focussed on power differentials and structural disadvantage in developing countries, Jessica saw an opportunity to borrow from the Strengths, Values, Interests and Careers task having students reflect upon their own character strengths and values and how these show up in day to day lived experience. To help students with the reflection Jessica brought in a facilitator with expertise in cultural transformation, diversity and inclusion; the 750 word reflective essay contributed 10% to the overall topic assessment. While she felt the relationship to careers was a little oblique, Jessica considered that the exercise and reflection will help students consider their unique and developing professional identity.
Jessica reported a positive verbal response in both topics though noted that the students who participated in the simulated interview were nervous and found it more challenging coming up with STAR examples than she anticipated. She intends to modify the Interview task in 2022 providing further guidance on creating interview questions and sample position descriptions, as well as directing students to specific videos and examples of the STAR method. She also intends to use the optional rubric to help set expectations and establish a standard.
Jessica reflected that using the toolkit developed her own capacities in both guiding students to develop skills and her own professional skills: after using the toolkit to undertake a simulated interview situation she understood more clearly that interviewing is a competency that requires practice and that students require opportunity and guidance to become adept at presenting their skills and experience in an interview context. Through guiding students through an evaluation of their own values and character, Jessica also applied this reflection to her own life, to accompany and provide examples to students during this process. This provided her with useful insight into her own strengths, challenges and values in her day-to-day lived experience that will assist her in addressing challenges and utilising strenghts in future.
As Honours Coordinator for Business, Government and Law Jessica is also planning to utilise the toolkit in developing an Honours topic for Business and Government students to identity and develop their industry and employability skills.
Topics: INTR2100, GOVT3005
Nearly 400 science students completed a resume in 2021 after the Resume task was incorporated into first year STEM teaching by coordinator Dr Jeanne Young and lecturer Dr Liu Fei Tan.
Capitalising on regular ‘Job Hacks’ workshops run by the Flinders Careers team, students attended a Week 11 resume session that was lightly adjusted for science students and a Week 12 ‘sector research’ session – a variation of the regular Job Search workshop – which introduced tools to the broad diversity of industries and organisations that might employ science graduates where there is not always a clear vocational pathway.
In follow up tutorials students further discussed with teaching staff what makes a good science resume; examined what makes a resume ‘poor’, ‘better’ and ‘good’; and considered how their tutor could target their resume and skills to particular roles.
Using the template supplied by Careers – and with additional guiding comments from Jeanne – students submitted their own resumes targeted to a role they liked the sound of.
The live resume and sector research sessions attracted 140 and 97 students respectively while there were 61 unique views of the resume recording and 35 of the sector research session in Semester 1. Interestingly a further 72 views of the sector research recording occurred in Semester 2 which may suggest that some students had set it aside to consider avenues for exploring science careers in additional detail. The SETs did not provide any indication of student sentiment; however informal comments that followed the workshops and received by Liu Fei indicated a positive reception. More formal evaluation will be introduced through SETs or a separate survey in 2022.
The task comprised 10% of overall assessment and used an adapted rubric for assessment.
For Jeanne and Liu Fei the toolkit complements the intent of the STEM topics to equip science students with foundational life and workplace skills. It augments their existing work in first year to broadly introduce students to what a scientist does and supports their commitment to providing student with access to ‘real world’ experiences, connections, resources and support.
Liu Fei reported that seeing a broad range of student resumes provided a useful benchmark for establishing where students are.
Understandably – and as expected – many students had no workplace experience. It is hoped that this early exposure to employability skills will provide the students with the confidence and ideas to start building their experiences while they study, growing their professional identity and ability to market themselves.
With Dr Narelle Hunter and Dr Ingo Koeper, work is underway to capitalise on this foundation by scaffolding other employability tasks in second and third year STEM topics and using Mahara ePortfolio to enable students to carry this work with them through their studies.
Employers want graduates with experience. First year is an ideal time to introduce students to a resume. A resume:
Second year Health Sciences students completed a one-page cover letter in 2022 after the tasks associated with the Job Advert Analysis & Organisation Research and Cover Letter focus areas were incorporated into their Research and Study Skills topic.
Dr Claire Gough saw the toolkit – and particularly these activities – as an opportunity to link the students’ learning with how they could promote and use these practical skills in the workplace.
The 237 students were first tasked with undertaking an activity where they used SPSS to analyse and prepare basic statistics from quantitative and qualitative health data for a group of participants. They were then asked to choose from one of three job advertisements and prepare a 500-word cover letter that included a summary of how their data analysis linked to the research skills and attributes required for the role.
Borrowing from the two toolkit activities, students were encouraged to research the organisations and reflect this in their cover letters. They were also referred to the Careers and Employability team’s live Cover Letter workshops and associated recordings and further discussion around linking cover letters to the data analysis occurred in tutorials.
The combined assessment – the data analysis and cover letter – was 30% and Claire used the supplied cover letter rubric for marking.
Overall SET responses for the topic found that three quarters (76%) of students found the overall topic helped them to their analytics and critical thinking skills with this assessment piece “considered an easier part of the topic as students were already familiar with cover letters.”
In terms of challenges, Claire noted that students who struggled with the data analysis component prepared lower quality cover letters. Some students provided their own job advertisement which made marking difficult; however, Claire acknowledges the obvious benefits for students to seek out a job advertisement that interests them and is considering future modification.
She plans to run the assessment again in 2023 commenting that “the resources were excellent both for the students, myself and the tutors to be able to guide students to write a successful and professional cover letter, and in providing students with the opportunity to reflect and understand the importance of these activities.”
Claire’s work with the second year students augments career planning activities that have been in place for first year Health Sciences students for several years – which borrow aspects of the strengths, values, interests and careers toolkit task – and there are also plans for third year students to undertake interview preparation activities.
The toolkit appealed because students were unclear about exactly what skills they had, who would value those skills, and how to communicate their skills competitively.
Dr Ali Enright, Psychology Senior Lecturer
Psychology Honours students develop their employability skills– and land jobs
Seventy-five Psychology Honours students are now better equipped to find work in areas where they previously were unclear about employment pathways – and at least two have since reported receiving job offers after sending the application they prepared.
With feedback from students and QILT Graduate Survey[i] findings showing only 60% of psychology graduates are employed four months post-completion, Dr Ali Enright (Psychology Senior Lecturer) worked with Rianna Lopez (Flinders Careers and Employability) to redesign the fourth year Psychology Honours curriculum to include employability skills.
Central to the redesign was the inclusion of the four toolkit tasks attached to the following focus areas – Sector Research, Job Advert Analysis & Organisation Research, Resume, and Cover Letter – which contributed to the development of their employability skills.
“The toolkit appealed because students were unclear about exactly what skills they had, who would value those skills, and how to communicate their skills competitively, “said Ali.
They also enabled Ali to scaffold learning.
“Through the series of tasks, students first looked for organisations that they might not have even known existed (and aligned with their values), gained skills in how to contact relevant people from that organisation, analysed job adverts to identify the skills required and consider how their skills aligned, and finally translated this knowledge and skills to the resume and cover letter,” she said.
To support their learning students were directed to engage with the Flinders Careers and Employability team’s workshops, events and resources throughout the semester. They also participated in dedicated skills workshops during teaching weeks 9 and 10, prepared a mock conference poster and delivered an oral presentation, before submitting all tasks in week 12.
“The next logical step was to encourage students to actually apply for the role and, because all the work is done, the likelihood of them applying was greater,” said Ali.
Students were pre-surveyed at the beginning of the topic to establish a baseline of their knowledge, skills, confidence and connections in relation to their career options. The survey was administered again after they submitted their tasks and students also provided feedback through SET.
The student response was overwhelmingly positive and demonstrated that all four employability tasks were helpful in preparing them for postgraduate employment.
“I think it was a great idea to embed this into the topic, so students could research different pathways and explore employability options,” said one survey respondent.
Indeed, at least two students who chose to submit their application to the employer later reported to Ali that they had been successful in landing the role.
For her part, Ali says she learned additional ways to support students to explore various job opportunities; how to develop better industry connections; and the type of skills industries are looking for in psychology graduates, based on the job adverts students selected for analysis.
Changes planned for 2023 include switching Sector Research, Job Advert Analysis and Resume to non-graded assessment and swapping out the Cover Letter task to an assessed Selection Criteria task.
“For us, the assessment task weightings didn’t successfully differentiate students so all students scored really well in the topic; as such we are shifting the majority of the tasks to non-graded and lowering the overall weighting to 30%.”
“We also decided that a response to selection criteria was more suitable because it’s there that applicants argue why they are the best candidate for the role, and it requires students to clearly communicate their skills and evidence to support their claims.”
Ali also feels maintaining the Semester 1 timing is important.
“Completing these tasks before mid-year meant that any students who realised by then that they were not going to be competitive or interested in clinical applications of their skills (i.e. Master in Clinical Psychology, or Professional Psychology, PhD as well) had time to flesh out the gaps in their resumes to be ready to apply for the jobs they wanted by the end of the year.”
Ali and Rianna presented the topic redesign and findings at the national Students, Transitions, Achievement, Retention & Success (STARS) Conference in July 2022 and plan to expand on their work in 2023; this includes starting a ‘community of practice’ with psychology and careers staff from across Australian universities.
Topic: PSYC7006 Semester 1, 2022
[i] QILT. (2021). Graduate Outcomes Survey, 2021. Social Research Centre. https://www.qilt.edu.au/qilt-surveys/graduate-employment
You consent to the use of our cookies if you proceed.