Employers hire people with the technical or work–specific skills needed to do the job. But they’re also looking for another 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. A warehouse technician's ability to operate a forklift. These are examples of work–specific skills.
- Employability skills are basic, 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 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 are signs that you have employability skills.
Even if you don’t have much work experience, you have no doubt developed employability skills that could help you get a job. For example, homemaking—caring for children and running a household—develops many skills. These include communication, interpersonal, time management and organizational skills.
Employability skills employers want
- Interpersonal and teamwork skills are the skills needed to work well with other people. They include being able to co–operate to reach common goals, or provide a high level of customer service. They also include perceive co–workers’ needs, express opinions in the right ways, respect diversity, accept and offer constructive feedback, etc.
- Communication skills include both oral and written skills. These include the ability to explain concepts clearly and accurately to individuals and groups and to create and deliver presentations. They also include the ability to write effective reports, email messages and other documents.
- Computer skills refer to the ability to use applications like word processing, spreadsheet or presentation software, to manage email, and to locate and manage a variety of online information sources. More and more, these skills include the ability to use online social networking tools in the right way.
- Thinking, problem–solving and decision–making skills refer to the ability to gather, analyze and apply information. They also involve using good judgment to make decisions.
- Time management and organizational skills include the ability to find out what tasks are most important, correctly predict how much time tasks will take. They also include the ability to work efficiently to produce results on time and on budget.
- Personal management skills refer to the ability to respond creatively to challenges, keep a positive attitude and be flexible. They also include the ability to 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.
Highlight your employability skills to find work
Employers know how much their business success depends on finding employees who have excellent employability skills. While work–specific skills can often be learned on the job, employability skills are usually harder to develop.
Highlight your employability skills in your resumé and job interviews. Let employers know that you have the skills they’re looking for.