Knowing how to market your employability skills will help you impress potential employers and improve your chances of landing the job you want.
Work-specific or technical skills can often be taught on the job or in short-term training. But employability skills are difficult to teach. That's why employers prefer to hire people who already have them. In fact, a Canadian Federation of Independent Business survey found that members ranked the following employability skills as the top 3 skills and qualities they want employees to have:
- Willingness to learn
- Willingness to stay at the firm
- Customer service skills
You probably have many employability skills. Your challenge as a job seeker is to show the employer what employability skills you would bring to the job.
Identify your employability skills
The first step in marketing your skills is to identify them. Employability skills are often grouped in 3 categories.
Fundamental skills include the following:
- Communicating ideas
- Following directions
- Solving problems
- Gathering information
- Making decisions
Teamwork skills include the following:
- Getting along with others
- Respecting differences
- Being supportive
- Co-operating with others to achieve shared goals
- Accepting and offering constructive feedback
Personal management skills include the following:
- Maintaining a positive attitude
- Setting goals and priorities
- Being adaptable
- Learning continuously
- Working safely
To complete an employability skills inventory, check out the Conference Board of Canada Employability Skills 2000+ brochure.
Take 2 easy steps to market your employability skills
Simply listing your previous job responsibilities probably won’t showcase your employability skills, especially if you’re applying for work that is different from what you have done before.
You'll need to make it easy for employers to see the employability skills you bring to a position. To do that, follow these steps.
1. List your employability skills on your resumé and job application forms
When listing your employability skills, focus on the following:
- Your strongest skills
- The skills you want to use on the job
- The skills most likely to interest the employers you’re targeting
2. Provide evidence of your skills in job interviews
Use the STARS technique to clearly describe how you used your employability skills in specific situations and the results you achieved.
Situation—Describe the circumstances and the problem you faced.
Task—Explain what you needed to do, why you needed to do it and the challenges involved.
Action—Describe the actions you took.
Results—Explain what happened as a result of your efforts.
Skills—Describe the skills you used to accomplish what you did.
Bring physical evidence of your employability skills with you to an interview. Using a portfolio is a great way to do this:
- If a job requires strong social skills, include a picture of a successful social gathering you hosted.
- If customer service skills are important, bring along copies of letters you’ve received from satisfied customers.
Impress potential employers
Even if you’ve had little or no paid work experience, you already have some of the employability skills employers are looking for. Identifying and marketing your employability skills will help build your confidence and make a good impression on the employers you’d like to work for.