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Evidencing numeracy skills

Numeracy skills are very important, irrespective of whether you consider the job to be ‘working with numbers’. You may be required to undertake a numeracy test and evidence an understanding of arithmetic, statistics and financial terminology.

One professional interviewed in the Standing out videos said she was unimpressed by candidates who say that maths is 'not their thing'. For example, knowing the profitability of a company, understanding value for money for procurement purposes, being able to interpret raw data in different formats are considered vital skills in any organisation.

How to demonstrate and evidence numeracy skills

Always try to quantify your achievements, on paper via your CV or application form or face-to-face during your interview. For example, stating that the team that you were part of in your part-time work role exceeded its monthly sales target consistently by between 8% and 10%, or that you were in the top 5% in terms of academic achievement for a particular module or programme, shows prospective employers that you have an understanding of the importance of number and its use in assessing performance. If you have used spreadsheets during your programme of study or in your personal life to manage your finances make sure that you bring this to their attention.

It is easier for a recruiter to assess these skills than others because they are familiar with a variety of numeracy related qualifications. Additionally recruiters often administer their own tests to select for a specific skill-base. These tests are usually multiple-choice, online and timed. It is important to practise tests in order to build up your speed and confidence.

Examples of online numeracy tests

Skills and capabilities

Numerical skills

  • Performing mental arithmetic – adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.
  • Being able to estimate.
  • Calculating percentages and conversion between units.
  • Working out proportion and ratios.

Statistics

  • Understanding averages: mean, median and mode.
  • Identifying trends correctly from a variety of sources.
  • Making comparisons in order to draw conclusions.
  • Interpreting graphical information accurately, e.g. in tables and charts.

Applying general arithmetic

  • Using and applying mathematical concepts in a work environment.

Understanding of financial terminology and awareness of organisation’s financial position

  • Show evidence of understanding current economic terminology, e.g. gross domestic product (GDP), inflation, procurement, tendering, key markets, customer base.
  • Show evidence of knowing key information about the organisation, e.g. if a Public Limited Company (PLC), its current share price and that of competitors and its position in the FTSE top one hundred; if a public sector organization, the funding streams available.

 References

Future fit: Preparing graduates for the world of work. (2009) Available at: http://www.cbi.org.uk/pdf/20090326-CBI-FutureFit-Preparing-graduates-for-the-world-of-work.pdf (Accessed: November 2010).

The manipulation of numbers, general mathematical awareness and its application in practical contexts (e.g. measuring, weighing, estimating and applying formulae).

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) definition of numeracy skills