How to boost your employability

Michael Healy works as an Employability Coordinator at USQ, supporting students to progress their careers. He’s been helping students to develop their resumes, improve their interview skills, and succeed in their job searches for over five years and is also a student himself, completing a PhD on careers and employability. Michael holds professional memberships to the Career Development Association of Australia and the Australian Association of Graduate Employers.

When considering what ‘employability’ means, many think about the skills required for a job and tend to stop there.

In fact, employability encompasses much more than just the skills you provide. To increase your potential to gain employment, you can stand out by working on your ability to identify and develop a range of employability attributes. 

By optimising all areas an employer is searching for, you will have a better chance of success in the job market.

Skills and Knowledge

University gives you the right skills and knowledge for your chosen career, plus official acknowledgement with a degree to validate this foundational knowledge.

However, your learning doesn’t stop at graduation. Workers are expected to learn on the job and constantly be developing their skills as new technology, laws and practises are implemented in the workforce.

In the meantime, it is important to keep your industry knowledge relevant and up-to-date on trends. To keep yourself aware of what to expect, sites such as Job Outlook and FYA are designed to give an accurate and up-to-date representation of the current skills, knowledge and expectations of your chosen profession.

Consider what the top three skills required in your profession are. From here, develop your understanding of these skills and learn how you can apply them to your career.

Attitude and Mindset

There are a variety of mindsets and behaviours that will increase your employability and are transferrable throughout your career.

Growth mindset: This refers to your adaptability, resilience and ability to learn and develop. Accepting that, no matter how much knowledge or experience you have, you will always be expanding your knowledge and adapting to new situations and environments.

Entrepreneurial mindset: In the new world of work, it’s less and less common for you to have a boss who tells you exactly what to do and how to do it. This means you will be given a problem and expected to be proactive, innovative and independent in your ability to learn, analyse and tackle the problem to develop a solution.

An entrepreneurial mindset is about seeking opportunities, solving problems, innovating and practising self-management, self-direction and independence.

Open mindset: Being open to experience and change is to be open to experimentation and practising proactive behaviour. This action can be small but, done regularly, it will help to build your employability and increase your openness to embrace opportunity when it presents itself.

There is often an element of luck in securing employment as it can be a matter of being in the right place, at the right time, among the right people. By regularly putting yourself out there, you increase your chances. There are plenty of proactive activities that can increase your employability, including:

Connectedness

Sometimes employment can come down to not just what you know, but who you know.

Connectedness refers to your connections and networks in a professional sense. Think of your profession as a community as you grow, strengthen, and work with connections. Don’t think of what you can get out of a connection, but instead of what you can give. Connecting is about contributions you can offer. Don’t feel as though you need to have a massive contribution either; what you offer can be as simple as your enthusiasm to learn.

Not all connections are the same and they do not all need to be strong connections. Weak, medium and strong connections have different benefits: 

Weak: can be used for information and collegiality.

Medium: can help with research and purposeful networking. 

Strong: can provide valuable opportunities, partnerships and mentoring.

Relationships build networks and can get you past the barrier of a faceless online application process. Build a network and remember that quality in your connections is always more valuable than quantity. 

Professional Identity

Finally, your professional identity is the cherry on top of your candidate prospects. Once you have gotten through all the barriers of applying, and you’ve received an opportunity, it can come down to your personal journey. The most important question you can ask yourself and really understand is: What’s your story? 

Knowing your value to an organisation can come right down to your motivations, pathway, and aspirations. Understanding what makes you unique can really boost your prospects. On paper, there can be a multitude of candidates that have the same qualifications, but your personality, background and driving motivation are the factors that no one else can imitate. Using them to emphasise your passion and showcase your resilience will give your potential employer an understanding of how you will fit into the organisation as a team member.

Overall, employers are looking for three things: capability, motivation, and organisational fit. By focusing on and fine-tuning your employability, you target these three areas and give yourself the best chance at success when you inevitably start on the path to employment. 

Contact the Careers and Employability team for more information on how to boost your employability or for any questions you may have about how to launch a successful career now.


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