Am I employable?

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, July 29, 2018

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Dear Career Advisor:

I successfully completed my degree earlier this year and will be graduating in the honour class. But while I have a feeling of satisfaction, I also have a strong fear as to whether I am ready for the work world and whether I have the skills employers require. There is so much talk about what employers are looking for and that it takes more than a degree to land a job. I find it a bit scary. How do I know if I am ready?

Yours truly,

Mic T

Dear Mic:

Thanks for your very relevant question, and commendations on completing your programme with honours! It will certainly give you a competitive edge in today's job market.

You are not alone among new graduates experiencing feelings of trepidation regarding workplace readiness. A recent survey released by Gallup and Strada Educational Network revealed that there is, in fact a crisis among students in respect of confidence in readiness for the launch of their careers.

Indeed, employers do highly value the knowledge, skills, and competencies that tertiary-level training prepares graduates to bring to the job. However, in addition to the formal training, recruiters place high value on the prospect's employability skills, attitude, and work ethic. Let's take a closer look at what these are and, by doing so, you can begin to do your self-assessment as to your readiness and further determine how you can improve in areas of potential weakness. Let's begin with employability skills.

Employability skills are those transferrable skills that are applicable to all employment types. They will help you to get a job, remain in the job, and advance in your career. The top eight employability skills are:

• Communication (listening, verbal, written) — The ability to communicate effectively, to persuade or influence others.

• Teamwork — The ability to adapt and successfully work in team environments

• Problem solving — The ability to quickly evaluate complex situations and determine effective solutions. This also includes the ability to analyse quantitative data.

• Initiative and enterprise — the ability to think creatively and make improvements for efficiency

• Planning and organising — The ability to plan, organise, and prioritise work

• Self-management — The ability to get work completed without a high level of direct supervision.

• Learning — Ability to quickly understand and learn new concepts and the desire for self-improvement

• Technology — competence with computer software programs, especially productivity tools.

An emerging but highly valued employability skill which is applicable to entrepreneurs as well as job seekers, is commercial awareness, which is the ability to understand and relate to the issues affecting the enterprise.

Employers also value prospects who possess strong work ethic. They will try to determine the likelihood that you will be consistent in producing work of a high quality and above average quantity. It is also expected that you will be reliable, dependable, and dedicated.

Additionally, employers are looking for people with a positive attitude — they will want to determine if you have an optimistic mental outlook and if you are solutions-oriented.

On a parting note, honestly evaluate yourself against the employability skills identified earlier. Try to identify examples of how you have demonstrated these skills. Be purposive in improving those skills in which you have weaknesses and excelling in those that are already strong. Having done so, confidently launch your job search and passionately pursue your career dreams.


Career Advisor

Carolyn Smith is associate vice-president, Student Services, at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester.

Submit your question to her at

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