Employability is a word you’ve probably heard quite a few times over the past couple of years, especially in the realm of Higher Education. It’s easy to assume that we know what employability is; being able to find, get and keep a job. But what if there’s more to it than that? Here are five key points to think about whether you’re studying, job hunting, climbing the career ladder or none of the above!
It’s nothing new.
You might not know it but you’ve been developing your employability since day one. A slightly cynical view of our early years perhaps but through learning to communicate, socialise, cooperate and accommodate change we began to grow the skills that many employers look for. How have you built on those skills you established as a child? And of course, we’ve all been aware of or taking part in the job markets for many years. So what’s changed?
Employers are looking for more.
The world of work has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. Troubled economic times, new technologies and increased competitiveness means times are officially tough. Leaner, meaner and fighting for survival, many employers can’t afford to take a gamble on a prospective employee.
But I could do that job with my eyes shut!
To be employable you need to have work experience, right? Plus the qualifications? Not necessarily. Take a look at your average person specification. As well as job specific skills there is an equal amount of emphasis placed upon team working, decision making, leadership and communication. Attributes and values. Employers want rounded individuals who can do the job, manage their working relationships and fit in to their working culture. No small task!
You’re more employable than you think.
So you’ve just spent a chunk of your life working hard and you’ve got a shiny certificate to show for it. And now it’s not enough? If you’ve paid an active part in your academic community you will have plenty to talk about. Making presentations, planning projects, volunteering, supporting other students, representing your institution; just a few activities that will have enhanced your employability whether you knew it or not. But will an employer really be interested in this stuff?
It’s about how you communicate.
Take time to think about how you’re going to talk and write about yourself. How might you shape your CV into a marketable skillset for a new role in Higher Education or other industries? It might take a little research and reflective practice to answer this one (something you’ll be familiar with I’m sure). Look at the skills required. How do you match up? Explore your own experience and you’ll soon find relevant examples.
So don’t be fazed. But what if you aren’t really involved in university life, or you feel you don’t have any work experience? It’s worth reviewing your situation with a careers adviser initially. Assessing what you’ve done and the potential activities you could get involved in is a great start on the road to increasing your employability.