Based on an article published in America Economia magazine (Latam) on February 28, 2015
Employability is the core paradigm of our working life. It is our ongoing job to build, develop, and show it. For this, it is key that we understand it, know its merits and limitations, and know how to improve it. But, what is employability? Employability is the ability to develop and keep our competencies, knowledge, and contact network updated so that we are always 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 covers a rather broad spectrum of subjects, but we will focus on three areas:
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. Therefore, it is imperative that we make an effort to know which competencies are valued in our field, specialty, or industry.
2) Demand in the job market: The job market fluctuates and it may be saturated with competencies like ours, and although these may be valued by companies, they are not required. In this case, demand for our services will also be very low. Therefore, we must seek to improve our employability by always analyzing not only what the market values, but also the moment the market is going through.
3) Exposure to decision-makers in the target market: Even if there is a market for our competencies, if those who decide on jobs or promotions do not know we exist, our employability will be very poor.
Emotional competencies are also important. Beyond what we know how to do and our technical, managerial, or specialized know-how, the market is increasingly placing a value on soft skills, our 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 oneself well socially.
In addition, there are attributes that may seem secondary, but are very important and make the difference: life experiences, culture, being up to date on the latest trends, interpersonal relationships, general attitude, mastery of English, computer literacy, and so on.
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 level of employability, the higher the demand for our services, the better our opportunities and, above all, the higher our job satisfaction.