The importance of your personal skills and qualities when looking for a job.
Sometimes called interpersonal skills, enterprise or foundation skills, or soft-skills, these ‘employability skills’ are about you as an individual. They are not specific to one job but are your personal qualities and attributes that are transferrable across jobs.
Employers seek staff with the right qualifications and skills, and many require relevant work experience. While all employers are unique and place emphasis on different attributes, they will not compromise on employability skills.
Which employability skills do employers value?
Over time, there has been a shift in the economy towards jobs that are people-focussed, such as in health and social care, retail, hospitality, tourism and education. As such, it is no surprise that employers need their staff to have good people and communication skills.
Many job seekers don’t understand how important these skills are and don’t know how to demonstrate them!
Traditional employability skills
- reliability and punctuality
- customer service skills
- a positive attitude and motivation
- the ability to work in a team
- good personal presentation
21st century skills
- problem solving
- critical thinking
- digital and financial literacy
- presentation skills
Jobs are unique and require different employability skills
All jobs have their own specific skill-set requirements, including the level of expertise or type of qualifications needed. Similarly, different jobs need different employability skills. For example, an accountant needs to be good with numbers, but they also need to be able to communicate with their clients.
For some jobs, this is even higher! For example, for personal care workers, almost 90% of employers told us they place at least as much emphasis on personal qualities than technical skills. Aged and disability care businesses also told us why applicants weren’t successful:
- 58% said they rejected candidates due to their poor communication skills
- 44% rejected candidates as they had inadequate people skills.
When applying for jobs, demonstrate your employability skills!
In job applications and interviews, you need to highlight examples of when and how you used these skills. Don’t be afraid to explain your strengths and how your skills benefit the business, making you the right candidate for the job.
If you’re a student, keep in mind that your group assignments demonstrate teamwork and negotiation skills; giving a speech demonstrates communication and presentation skills. Playing or coaching sport, or participating in other extra-curricular activities (like debating or helping in the library) can also be a selling point.
If you have worked at a fast food restaurant, you:
- worked in a busy environment, showing that you can work under pressure and as part of a team
- responded to customer complaints, which shows your problem solving, negotiation and customer service skills
- turned up on time for your shifts which demonstrates your reliability and punctuality
While it may be harder at the moment to find a job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding your employability skills will help you stand out in a competitive jobs market.
Take the Quiz:
Check out this fun quiz that gives you a % of how employable you are.