10 Common Employability Skills (With Definitions and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies usually look for certain qualities or skills in job candidates besides academic qualifications. Known as employability skills, these skills may not be job-specific, but they play a vital role in improving your performance and value in the workplace. They can also have an impact on your ability to progress in your career. In this article, we define what employability skills are and explore some examples.

What are employability skills?

Employability skills, also called work-readiness skills or employment skills, are transferable skills that are useful in almost every job. These skills may involve the development of expertise that makes you more marketable to companies. Along with excellent subject knowledge and technical understanding, companies often outline a set of skills that they want from you. These skills are what they believe can equip you to perform your role to the best of your ability. Employability depends on attitude, skill and knowledge, how you apply these qualities and how you present them to potential employers.

10 important employment skills

Here are some common employment skills that companies may look for:

1. Communication

One of the most sought-after employment skills is communication. This is because it's an essential part of almost any job. Having strong communication skills can make you more employable, as it can improve a company's efficiency and productivity and help save valuable time and resources. The process of communication involves five elements, namely the speaker, the receiver, medium, message and feedback. These elements allow you and the person you're talking with to deliver and understand messages efficiently and clearly, eliminating unnecessary errors and misunderstandings.

Being an effective communicator involves expressing your ideas and thoughts clearly to achieve certain outcomes. It also involves listening to your co-workers' ideas, instructions or intentions. Depending on the job you're applying for, the employer may require you to be proficient in many types of communication, such as written, verbal, nonverbal and visual.

Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

2. Teamwork

Excellent teamwork skills refer to your ability to work harmoniously with your co-workers to attain a common goal. Teamwork skills can increase your chances of getting hired, as they contribute to a more productive work environment. To become an excellent team player, it's important to be comfortable collaborating with people to complete a task, contributing to team goals and taking responsibility for your share of work. Here are a few tips to help you improve your teamwork skills:

  • Volunteer to help coworkers with projects.

  • Work with others in a local organisation.

  • Join a sports team.

Related: Essential Qualities of Powerful Team Player

3. Reliability

Reliability can make you more employable as it can promote trust between you and the company. You're a reliable employee if you consistently finish your assignments on time, make minimal mistakes and deliver quality work. It's also important to respond to emails and enquiries promptly and make promises you can keep. Here are a few tips to become a reliable employee:

  • Consistently meet or exceed your expected levels of work performance.

  • Create schedules for your day-to-day tasks and maintaining them.

  • Acknowledge your mistakes and make a conscious effort to prevent them in the future.

Related: Top 10 Qualities of a Good Employee (And How To Develop Them)

4. Problem-solving

Problem-solving usually involves identifying problems and their implications and determining the most effective way to resolve them. For more complex issues, it's important to learn how to divide them into smaller, more manageable parts. Problem-solving skills can help you stand out from other job candidates, as they can help your potential employer maintain an effective operational process and meet objectives more effectively.

If you're good at problem-solving, it's easy for you to troubleshoot problems, which can help your team overcome obstacles and address complex problems. Depending on the job you're applying for, an employer may require you to have a certain set of sub-skills to solve issues effectively, including decision-making, analysis and research. Here are a few tips to improve your problem-solving skills:

  • Undertake research assignments and projects.

  • Participate in brainstorming sessions.

  • Regularly develop your skills by playing games and solving puzzles.

Related: How To Problem Solve with Steps, Techniques and Skills

5. Organisation and planning

Being able to organise and plan effectively is necessary because it can help you and your employer save effort, time and resources by improving workflow. It can help you complete projects and assignments on time and prevent errors and confusion that can be costly to the organisation. To be a good planner and organiser, it's important to identify tasks, prioritise them, create schedules for them and finish them on time. Here are a few tips to improve your planning and organisation skills:

  • Develop a timetable for your daily activities.

  • Organise an event.

  • Write down your activities or tasks in a planner.

6. Initiative

Taking initiative means recognising an issue and solving it, having a positive attitude, taking advantage of opportunities and preparing for a potential problem by taking preemptive action. Taking initiative can show that you can think for yourself and resolve issues without being instructed to do so. If you're a professional with initiative, you have a strong drive to grow in your career and succeed, which can make you a valuable employee for any company. Here are a few tips for improving your ability to take initiative:

  • Approach companies and other organisations to enquire about job opportunities.

  • Propose changes to the policies or activities of a team you belong to.

  • Set up a local fundraiser or club.

7. Self-management

Self-management refers to your ability to perform job duties well, with little or no guidance. If you're in a management position, it can mean delegating tasks to make sure you complete them on time. In addition, self-managed employees can encourage themselves to deliver quality work performance consistently.

If you have strong self-management skills, you can help your manager or supervisor save effort and time simply because you only require minimal supervision from them. In addition, being a self-motivated professional can mean you may be less likely to have issues in terms of productivity. These skills can make you an attractive candidate for most employers. Here are a few tips to develop your self-management skills:

  • Ask for more responsibilities at work.

  • Create schedules for certain activities and maintain them.

  • Participate in volunteer work that enables you to work independently.

8. Leadership

Many companies look for outstanding leaders because they can benefit organisations in several ways. As a leader, you may play a vital role in making sure that your team shares the same vision as the organisation and works with other departments or teams to achieve a shared goal. Also, you can create strategies for achieving objectives, keeping your team constantly motivated while monitoring work performance to generate better results for the organisation.

Leadership skills are necessary at every level of the company. If you're seeking a management position, it's important to be an excellent leader to motivate other members of your team. You may also benefit from having strong leadership ability in entry-level roles, as it may help you stand out and advance your career faster. You can demonstrate leadership by motivating or directing your coworkers, setting goals or objectives for your team, improving work practices and training your coworkers. To help you become a better leader, consider the following tips:

  • Complete a leadership course.

  • Start a local group.

  • Read about the habits of successful leaders, especially those in your industry.

9. Learning

Having excellent learning skills means understanding new methods and concepts quickly, adapting to change, taking on new tasks and having the enthusiasm to improve your skills and knowledge continually. If you have excellent learning skills, you can help your employer fill challenging positions more quickly and cut the cost of staff training. Excellent learners are especially desirable to organisations that are at the forefront of innovation, as they can help transition to new technologies and methods more smoothly. Here are a few tips for improving your ability to learn:

  • Take a course to develop your learning skills, such as memory-boosting, speed-reading or an accelerated learning course.

  • Research skills and activities related to your job, such as organisation, teamwork or presentation skills.

  • Teach yourself a new hobby or skill.

10. Technology

Companies usually look for job candidates who have excellent technical skills to help them use the latest technology and improve the company's productivity. Depending on your position, the technology skills you use may vary, from sending emails and using word processing software to employing programming languages and video editing software. If you can learn how to use new technologies quickly or grasp technology-related concepts, you may be more attractive to potential employers. Here are a few ways to develop your technology skills:

  • Enrol in a technology course.

  • Try out new technology or applications in your daily life.

  • Stay up-to-date with the newest system or technology in your field or industry.

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