Top 10 Employability Skills: Definition & List of Examples
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Do you have what it takes to make every employer fight for you?
You’re about to learn what some of the most desirable employability skills are.
But there’s more.
We’ll show you how to improve them and highlight them on your resume so that you land that unicorn job, and leave the other 250+ candidates far behind.
This article will show you:
- What employability skills are and why they’re needed.
- Examples of employability skills.
- How to improve yours.
- How to put them on your resume.
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Looking for information on other skills? Head straight to one of our guides:
- Administrative Skills
- Organizational Skills
- Management Skills
- Marketing Skills
- Creative Thinking Skills
- Collaboration Skills
- Customer Service Skills
Employability skills is an umbrella term for a set of highly desirable, transferable skills that turn you into a very attractive candidate or employee. They can be defined as a set of skills employers want from a potential employee.
You might want to ask—
So, what are employability skills specifically?
Well, there isn’t a single answer that pinpoints them. Neither are they referred to as employability skills in job adverts.
We can fall back on studies and surveys, such as this one or this one to identify the skills employers and recruiters value most.
Even though you will come across different sets of employability skills, here's a quick look at the most common ones:
Examples of Employability Skills
Employability skills are very desirable to recruiters because they're valuable in almost every job. They're also much harder to teach than specific technical skills, so a candidate who already has them is very attractive to prospective employers. Here are 10 of the most important employability skills that employers look for.
- Communication skills
- Time management
- Technology use
- Information use
- Personality traits
62% of recruiting professionals identify problem-solving as a skill that gets you hired.
Why is problem-solving so valued?
Companies face a lot of obstacles. Those better able to cope with challenges will thrive. Those less able will ultimately fail.
Simple as that.
Problem-solving is part and parcel of everyday life at any company, and it involves:
- analyzing facts and figures
- defining challenges
- devising contingency plans
- assessing processes
- creating and implementing solutions
No wonder employers are constantly looking for people who can help them tackle setbacks and streamline processes.
As a matter of fact, problem-solving is part of several larger skill sets. If you want to be sure you're making the most of this skill, make a beeline for our guides on analytical skills and critical thinking skills.
2. Communication skills
If you want to succeed in your professional (and personal) life, you need to be able to effectively communicate with others.
This is why communication is a fixture on any employability skills list.
There’s more to communication than saying things so that people “get it.”
To be called a good communicator, you need to:
- draw logical conclusions
- build rapport
- adapt language to your audience
- act accordingly upon the information you gather
Want to max out your chances of succeeding at work? Learn about the most effective communication skills for workplace success and resumes.
Here’s the thing—
In the 21st century change is the name of the game.
This is why companies look for people who can quickly adjust to the ever-shifting business landscape.
New technologies, new kinds of competition, new business models—all these require you to think on your feet and have the courage to propose new, yet-to-be-tested solutions.
It should come as no surprise that adaptability ranks high among top employability skills.
And one more thing.
Adaptability also means your willingness to learn.
If you’re open-minded and like to learn, you will draw conclusions from your mistakes to invent new, more efficient ways of performing your tasks.
And this is exactly the attitude employers look for.
Synergy has become a modern-day buzzword.
The power of collaboration cannot be underestimated. Well-organized teams can achieve much more than any of its members could if they went solo.
This is why teamwork, or collaboration, is one of the sought-after employability skills.
- being able to work with people of different backgrounds, ages, religions, and political options
- recognizing each team member’s strengths and weaknesses to assign tasks accordingly
- accepting accountability for the results
- resolving conflicts within the team
5. Time management
If you’re unable to plan your time efficiently, you’ll have problems with delivering results.
But it doesn’t end here.
Bad time-management may lead to work-life imbalance and ultimately transform into professional- and personal-life related issues.
Employers don’t want this to happen.
That’s exactly why time management skills are one of the most important employability skills.
As a matter of fact—
Time-management is part of a larger skill set, often referred to as resource management, where resources are understood as time, effort, and others.
To be recognized as efficient at time management, you must know how to:
- plan the use of available resources (time, effort, people, money, etc.)
- establish task or project time frame
- set schedules and milestones
Learn more about time-management skills from our dedicated guide: 30+ Time Management Skills Examples & Tips on How to Improve Them
Organizational skills tie in nicely with time-management skills.
They take things a step further, though, and include:
- Being self-motivated and focused
- Effective use of mental capacity, physical space, and resources, among others
- Managing tasks and people
Each and every one of them turns you into a highly employable and versatile person.
If you want to learn more about organizational skills, how to make them prominent on your resume, and how to improve them, here’s a guide just for you: Organizational Skills: Definition, Examples, and Best for Your Resume
7. Technology use
In this day and age—
It’s obvious as the noonday sun.
Technology pervades all aspects of our lives and will continue to do so.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a data scientist, nurse, administrative assistant, network engineer, or investment banker—
To stay employable you must keep abreast of technologies relevant to your profession.
Want to learn more about what computer skills get jobs? Here’s a guide you may want to give a read: Best Resume Software and Hardware Skills and IT Skills In Demand in 2023
8. Information use
This is not to be confused with the previous one.
It’s an employability skill in its own right.
In the 21st century information is the new currency.
Sometimes a single piece of data can become a make or break factor for an entire organization.
It’s pretty clear employes look for people who can:
- find the right information in any medium
- organize it in a meaningful way
- analyze it and draw conclusions
- communicate it to others
Being able to use information has a very broad spectrum of meanings. It can refer to locating a single piece of essential data or making a data-driven pitch deck for investors.
9. Personality traits
Like it or not:
There are certain character traits that make you more employable than others.
Why do companies pay attention to this?
Well, your transferable skills in combination with the right character traits turn you into—
A perfect cultural fit.
According to this study, these are the top six character traits employers look for:
And even though you can’t change your character to become someone you’re not—
You may want to do your best to come across as enthusiastic, confident, and transparent in your job interview.
Finally, the ability to lead others is incredibly important. Leadership skills mix management skills and people skills with charisma, empathy and strategic thinking, just to name a few.
Leadership is incredibly difficult to get right, and good leaders are worth their weight in gold.
Want to learn more about listing all kinds of skills on a resume? See our guide 99 Key Skills for a Resume (Best List of Examples for All Types of Jobs)
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
Improving Employability Skills
There are many ways in which you can improve your employability skills.
But you probably know this already, don’t you?
The question is how to improve employability skills specifically?
Practice makes perfect.
To give your employability skills a boost, you must consciously practice them whenever you can.
Here’s a couple of ideas on how you can develop some of them on a daily basis:
How to Improve Problem-Solving
- Never give up if you face a problem—try out different solutions, ask others for guidance, look for patterns and exceptions
- Get involved in helping your coworkers solve their problems, even if you’re not sure how to solve the problem yourself
- Adopt a learning mindset, be curious
- Ask others how they found a solution to a problem they faced, ask about the steps they took to solve it
- Try fixing broken things at home, learn from online tutorials
- Join online communities and exchange your opinions
How to Get Better at Communication
- Improve your email writing skills—try to be clear and concise
- Start blogging—practice writing longer forms, structure your blog posts logically, and make sure the text has a nice flow
- Prepare and deliver presentations—ask for feedback, practice speaking in front of live audiences
- Get involved in clubs or societies, such as Toastmaster’s International for example
- Practice your body language—record yourself or speak in front of the mirror
- Start converstations with strangers
How to Develop Adaptability
- Embrace change by setting yourself with new challenges—start a new hobby, learn new skills, do things you’re afraid of, do what you can’t
- Ask for new responsibilities at work
How to Improve Teamwork
- Be an active member of your project team—offer help, ask for help, discuss proposed solutions, speak up if you’re having doubts, offer your expertise
- Join a sports team
How to Work on Time Management and Organizational Skills
- Monitor how much time you spend doing work and learn to plan your days more effectively
- See how much of your time is taken up by distractions—try to minimize them
- Try using time management methods, such as the Pomodoro Technique
- Use productivity apps, such as Tasks, Google Calendar, Evernote, Google Keep, Todoist, or Trello. Find the ones that work for you!
- Tidy up your working and living space
- Sleep well
- Go for a walk
How to Improve Your Technology Use
- Read industry blogs, websites, and magazines to stay up to date
- Learn from free online tutorials you can find on YouTube
- Enroll in online classes on Udemy, Coursera or MadBright for example
How to Develop Information Use
- Take online logical reasoning tests
- Learn Google Analytics or other analytical software
- Take free online verbal reasoning tests
- Read a lot
All the suggestions above will help you improve your employability skills.
But this isn’t everything.
Some governments have created the so-called Employability Skills Frameworks to help students develop employability skills.
Visit this website to find out more. Here’s a direct link to the official Employability Skills Framework Handout which gives you a nice overview of what is specifically understood by each employability skill.
Here’s another link that will take you to a similar document prepared for residents of the Land Down Under. It breaks down basic employability skills into smaller components.
New Zealand’s government has a dedicated website that outlines what employability skills companies look for. Here’s a nice employability skills checklist that you can use to assess where you’re at with your employability skills.
Here’s a couple of links that will help you assess your employability skills for free online:
Employability Skills on a Resume
Now that you know what employability skills are and why they’re needed—
It would be great to know how to highlight them on your resume.
The truth is—
There isn’t a single best answer.
Employability skills consist of diverse abilities, and different employers will want you to display different ones.
That’s why your safest bet is to—
Tailor your resume to a specific job offer. Check what skills are required in the job ad and refer to them throughout your resume.
Wonder how to do this?
You’re in luck. We have a series of guides that will show you how to do it step by step:
- 6 Tips on How to Tailor Your Resume to a Job Description (Examples)
- Soft Skills vs Hard Skills for a Job: What Employers Look for (+Lists)
- How to Make a Resume for a Job (from Application to Interview in 24h)
- Resume Keywords To Use: Step-by-Step Guide (25+ Examples & Tips)
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
See more cover letter templates and start writing.
Here’s a quick summary of everything you need to know about employability skills:
- The term employability skills refers to a set of sought-after soft and hard skills as well as character traits that make a person a highly attractive candidate.
- These skills are not set in stone but different studies and government initiatives help us identify basic employability skills that businesses desire.
- You can improve your employability skills in many different ways on a daily basis. Plus, you can assess your employability skills by taking free online tests.
- You can highlight such skills on your resume by tailoring it resume to a given job ad.
Do you have any questions about employability skills? Maybe you’d like to share some tips on how to develop them? Give us a shout out in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!