Improving Our Employability Level

Original Spanish version published in America Economia (Latin America) on February 28, 2015

Employability is the core paradigm of our working life. Building it, developing it and showing it is our ongoing task. The key for that is to understand it, know its merits and limitations, and know how to improve it. But, what is understood as employability? Employability is the ability to develop and keep our competencies, knowledge and contact network updated in order to always be empowered to decide on our career plan. In other words, it is a person’s ability to maintain or improve his or her current job or to get a new job with the same or better level of satisfaction within a given time period.

Being very employable will allow us to decide on our career plan so that, if we are not satisfied with our current job, we are able to find a better one. What makes us employable? The list is rather broad, but there are three areas that we must work on:

1) Valued personal competencies: We can have many competencies, but these may be valued more or less by our target job market according to the type of work we do. If they are not positively valued, our employability will be very low. Making the effort to know which competencies are valued in our field, specialty or industry is imperative.

2) Demand in the job market: The job market has highs and lows and our competency profile, though valued by companies, may be going through a moment of saturation where competencies like ours are not required. In this case, the result will also be very low because there is no demand for our services. Therefore, we must seek to improve our employability not only by always analyzing what the market values, but also the moment the market is going through.

3) Exposure to decision-makers in the target market: When a market does exist and we do have the competencies, if those who decide on jobs or promotions do not know we exist, the result for our employability will be very poor.

Emotional competencies are also important. Beyond what we know how to do and our technical, management or specialized expertise, the market is increasingly valuing soft skills, the ability to integrate, work with a team, commit to the company, go beyond what we are asked to do, be assertive and, above all, be very flexible.

Technical knowledge is within everybody’s reach. For example, it is implicitly expected for a company’s financial analyst to know a lot about finances. But between two candidates with similar education, experience and intellect, less tangible assets will make the difference: attitude, charisma, values, habits, customs and the ability to handle yourself well socially.

Also, there are attributes that may seem ancillary, but are very important and make the difference: experiences, culture, being up-to-date, interpersonal relationships, general attitude, mastery of English, computer literacy, etc.

As you can see, employability is complex on account of its varied elements, facets and moments, but we have to work on it, since the higher our employability level, the higher the demand for our services, the better our opportunities and, above all, the higher our job satisfaction.

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