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What Employers are Looking for: Employability

By Wendy Adams

Excited and anxious to begin the job search, many graduates may erroneously believe the credential alone will carry them. Not so. Employability is a term that defines both the traits and the skills of the individual being considered. Rather than job or industry specific, these competencies must cut horizontally across disciplines and culture, and span the various verticals of hire from CEO to front line worker. The winning attributes high on the most discerning lists fall into three main categories.

 

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    Basic skills win out in our first tier as the foundation of a selection committee, with communications in all forms a major priority: reading, writing, composing, speaking and listening are the biggies. That said, more and more employers are also interested to know you can do the basic math too.

     

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    Critical thinking weighs in on the second tier with the ability to make good decisions and apply sound reasoning. Innovation is on everyone’s list as is the ability to problem-solve creatively and use resources: time, money, and people to the greatest advantage.

     

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    Personal qualities and interpersonal skills weigh in last and have the most clout when negotiating the starting salary. It is within these skills: individual ethic and accountability, self-efficacy, self-management and integrity that employers mitigate the risks of hire. Additional skills of effective team engagement and leadership qualities also serve to provide better launching points for fast-tracking the career.

     

Within all of the communications to employers (cover letter, resume, interview, thank- you notes and references), these three critical points are found. Well-prepared accomplishment statements further allow for confirmation that the employer’s needs are being addressed.

“When you are competing with other well-prepared candidates, you must be ready,” says Marvin Adams, a career consultant through Career Transition Success, also an associate professor at Columbia Union College in Maryland. "I suggest that you write out your answers in short stories…that way you have something to review.” Adams continues, “This process also imbeds the information deeper in your memory and forces you to be more concise. When you are asked about your abilities, it will be much easier for you to recall (them) with more confidence.”

Employability skills are absolute requirements in the competitive job market. Define and refine what you have to offer; then don’t be shy.