Employability: What it is and how to improve it

The vast majority of Australia is gainfully employed, which of course is a great thing. But there's a difference between the term "employed" and "employability". Employed is past tense; employability is representative of the future and is a distinction that everyone who works for a living should actively strive to achieve.  

What does employability mean?

In general, the term refers to the skills that an individual brings to a position that makes them hireable. This may include a combination of hard and soft skills. Hard skills, as their description implies, are the more tangible, measurable kind often learned in university, certification programs and licensing courses. Soft skills, on the other hand, are more intangible, which is why they can be difficult to define. Once you see them in action, though, you recognise them right away. Teamwork, discipline, consistency, leadership, problem-solving and professional ethics are all classic examples of soft skills.

Business people interviewing woman. Understanding what employability is all about can help you land the job you want.

Ideally, the modern worker boasts a blend of hard and soft skills, but it's the latter that employers are keying in on of late. Indeed, according to a 2019 Global Talent Trends report from Deloitte Economics, potentially as much as two-thirds of all jobs by 2030 will require a workforce that excels in soft skills. In fact, in a separate study conducted by the International Labour Organisation, the skills that employers look for today are "quite different" than what they were seeking as little as three years ago, wanting more soft skills now versus then.

"Some soft skills are more in demand than others."

While virtually every soft skill brings with it certain strengths that make workers employable, some are more in demand than others. Based on analysis conducted by LinkedIn, creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management are the five most sought-after soft skills employers look for in 2019.

1. Know what you're good at

No one knows you better than you know yourself. It raises the question: "What makes you truly one of a kind?" Whether it's dependability, trustworthiness, or good old-fashioned hard work, knowing what makes you special is essential to building a brand that gets you noticed. Be sure to reference these assets on your resume – or better yet, demonstrate them on the job – to advance your hire or promotion intentions.

2. Learn more about the business/position for which you're applying

When you're interviewing for a job, much of the question-and-answer session is learning more about you. This is certainly the case if you've never worked for the company before. But the employer will also be looking to see what you know about the positions you're hoping to fill. By doing your research – whether that's online or talking to those who may be familiar with the role – you can establish your diligence and natural inquisitiveness, two hallmarks of soft skills.

3. References, references, references

All applicants think they're the best person for the job to the point of flatly stating as much. Yet employers want evidence that speaks to your capabilities. One of the best ways is letting others speak on your behalf. Whether it's a former boss, co-worker, trusted confidante or mentor, references enable the company to learn more about you by talking to those who've seen you in action. These individuals may also be able to attest to the hard and soft skills you possess.

4. Exemplify skills the position calls for

A job description often lists the characteristics a role requires. If you see some that apply to you, think of instances that can illustrate why you're good at them.

Deakin University can help you develop the employability skills that get noticed and are needed to succeed in today's workplace. To learn more about the credentials that can show off your best performance assets, please contact us today.