What is employability?

Employability means the attributes a person has that makes them able to gain and maintain employment (Wikipedia). So what attributes make someone employable?

Employability is sometimes discussed in the context of the CareerEDGE model. This was a model developed by Lorraine Dacre Pool and Peter Sewell in 2007 which identifies five essential elements that aid employability:

  • Career Development Learning: the knowledge, skills and experience to help people manage and develop their careers.
  • Experience: work and life experiences help people develop a broader range of skills and are attractive for prospective employers
  • Degree subject knowledge, understanding & skills
  • Generic skills
  • Emotional Intelligence

The mnemonic “CareerEDGE” is used as an aid to remember the five components on the lower tier of the model, as bolded in the above list.

Emotional intelligence is identified by Goleman as:

“the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

(Goleman, D. (1998), Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury, London, p.317)

Pool and Sewell believe this to be particularly important in recruitment situations and in developing effective working relationships.

However, the CareerEDGE model holds that all five elements are important and missing one can considerably reduce a person’s employability. Each element is important in its own right, but all five overlap and are integral to each other.

There are various ways to demonstrate necessary subject knowledge and specific skills to a prospective employer. These include, for example, gaining accreditation, writing a CV and cover letter that use appropriate language for the role, and contributing to publications within the job-seeker’s industry.

In addition, since Pool & Sewell wrote their theory, there has been rapid growth of social networks with two in particular having relevance for careers purposes. These are LinkedIn (500 million users – 250 million active) and Twitter (126 million daily users). Having a LinkedIn profile doesn’t increase employability as such, but it can help demonstrate it more fully than a CV would. Twitter, on the other hand, is a great tool for both keeping up-to-date with industry developments and getting involved with one’s industry.