Employers hire people with the technical or work–specific skills required to do the job. But they’re also looking for an additional set of skills that they often consider just as important—employability skills.
- Work–specific skills are the skills needed to do the tasks that are part of the job. A dental hygienist's ability to clean teeth, a computer programmer's ability to create a database, and a warehouse technician's ability to operate a forklift are examples of work–specific skills.
- Employability skills are fundamental, personal and interpersonal skills used in almost every kind of work. Teamwork skills, time management skills, computer skills and problem–solving skills are examples of employability skills.
Employers usually screen job applications on the basis of whether or not applicants have the required work–specific skills. This means that when you’re invited to a job interview, the employer has probably already decided that you have or can learn the necessary work–specific skills. What employers are often looking for during job interviews is evidence that you have employability skills.
Even if your work experience is limited, you have probably developed employability skills that could help you get a job. For example, homemaking—caring for children and running a household—develops many skills, including communication, interpersonal, time management and organizational skills.
Employability skills employers want
- Interpersonal and teamwork skills are the skills required to work well with other people, including the ability to work co–operatively towards common goals, provide a high level of customer service, recognize co–workers’ needs, express opinions in appropriate ways, respect diversity, accept and offer constructive feedback, etc.
- Communication skills include both oral and written skills, such as the ability to explain concepts clearly and accurately to individuals and groups, to write effective reports, email messages and other documents and to create and deliver presentations.
- Computer skills refer to the ability to use applications such as word processing, spreadsheet or presentation software, to manage email, to locate and manage a variety of online information sources and, increasingly, to use online social networking tools appropriately.
- Thinking, problem–solving and decision–making skills refer to the ability to gather, analyze and apply information, and use good judgment to make decisions.
- Time management and organizational skills refer to the ability to determine what tasks are most important, accurately predict how much time activities will take and work in an efficient, accurate way to produce results on time and on budget.
- Personal management skills refer to the ability to respond creatively to challenges, maintain a positive attitude, be flexible, learn continuously, handle personal problems outside of working hours, manage stress, maintain health, etc.
Identify your employability skills
- To identify your employability skills, check out the Conference Board of Canada Employability Skills 2000+ brochure.
- To rate your employability skills, take Service Canada’s employability quiz.
Highlight your employability skills to find work
Employers know how much their business success depends on finding employees who have well–developed employability skills. While work–specific skills can often be learned on the job, employability skills are usually more challenging to develop.
Highlight your employability skills in your resumé and job interviews. Let employers know that you have the skills they’re looking for.