Updating your resume? You won't want to brush over the skills section of your resume — your employability skills can set you apart from other promising candidates.
What are employability skills?
Employability skills are the skills you have and develop that make you valuable talent, as perceived by the hiring manager or company. Essentially, they're the transferable skills you need in order to be deemed employable by that company.
Companies look for solid technical skills and your understanding and knowledge of specific subjects, depending on the industry and job. They also look for strong soft skills, including interpersonal skills that let them know you'll fit in well with the company's culture. Your employability skills may be a combination of both your technical (hard) skills and your soft skills, as they the skills that employers will often outline as requirements. These are the skills that the employer believes will equip you to carry out your particular role to the best of your ability; thus, possession of these skills makes you "employable."
What are some essential employability skills?
Employability skills will differ depending on the employer because different employers have different ideas of what it means to be employable, based on their needs. While strong data analysis skills or customer service skills or copyediting skills or marketing skills might be critical for one job opening, they may be irrelevant to another, so the respective employers for these openings are to decide which skills make someone employable for their company.
1. Communication Skills
Communication skills are almost always considered employability skills, and that's because being able to communicate effectively is valuable across all industries, regardless of the job. You will always need to communicate with your colleagues, your managers, your clients if you have any and others in your industry. Your communication skillset might include active listening skills, articulation skills, soft skills like empathy and more.
2. Teamwork Skills
Again, teamwork skills are also usually employability skills, as most employers look for team players. Even if you work independently without a team, the chances are that you're going to need to interact with others in the company, and you're likely going to need to be a team player. Your teamwork skillset might include collaboration skills, delegation skills and soft skills like dependability, trust and more.
3. Organization Skills
Organization skills are applicable for all industries and, as such, are all usually considered employability skills. Like being able to communicate and collaborate well, you'll also need to be able to keep organized for most job positions — whether you're a data analyst or a teacher. Your organizational skillset might include your abilities to stay focused on several tasks; to use your time, energy, strength and/or mental capacity wisely, to keep your physical space clear of clutter, etc.
4. Time-Management Skills
Time-management skills are also transferable skills across all job industries. All careers can benefit from time-management skills, as the better the grasp you have on your time, the more effectively and productively you can do your job. Of course, this not only benefits you, but it also benefits business, which is why it makes you employable. Your time-management skillset might include your abilities to plan, priorotize, delegate, manage stress and more.
5. Leadership Skills
Leadership skills are important, and most hiring managers look for candidates who possess strong leadership skills, even if they're not hiring for a leadership position. That's because innovative, forward-thinking leaders make great team members, regardless of where they stand in the structural hierarchy of the company. Your leadership skillset might include your abilities to inspire, motivate and empower others; make decisions; innovate; delegate and more.
How can you highlight your employability skills?
Highlighting your employability skills isn't necessarily easy, as you have to set yourself apart from other candidates who may possess the same employability skills. But you can do this by showing not telling.
In other words, rather than just listing all of your skills in your resume, you'll want to show how you've utilized those skills by describing how you've tapped into and further developed these skills in your previous work experiences.
The first step is to reread the job description for the opening to which you're applying. You want to be positive that you wholly understand what it is that the employer wants. And once you understand exactly the kinds of skills for which they're calling, you can mirror their language on your resume. For example, if an employer is calling for a photographer with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom experience, you can list those specific technical skills on your resume.
Again, however, you don't want to only list these technical skills in the skills section of your resume. You'll also want to show how you've used Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom in previous photography jobs in the experiences section of your resume. Make sure to include in the descriptive blurb following your job title and company that, not only were you responsible for shooting and editing photographs but also that you shot and edited photographs in both Photoshop and Lightroom. You may want to include specific tools in these platforms in which you're particularly adept, as well as share specific details on the kinds of photographs you were editing if that's relevant, as well. The point: Tell the person reading your resume not just "Yup, I can do that," but, rather, "Yup, here's how I've already done that before."
You know you're employable maybe because you've been employed before or perhaps simply because you have the education and/or experiences that you're confident are attractive to employers! But just because your skills make you employable to one company doesn't mean that every company is going to consider you employable for them. Now that you understand what employability skills are, how they vary based on company and job needs, and how to highlight your employability skills, you'll have a much easier time updating your resume — and, ideally, a much easier time landing a job!
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.