Who Am I?

Exploring your identity.

Are You Employable? Three Things You Need to Know

What employers are looking for in job applicants.

Passion is necessary, but not sufficient, for career success.

Knowing what we what to be when we grow up, i.e., answering “Who am I?” in terms of our career, is a difficult question to answer at any age. The process of developing a mature career identity can be a long one, given we must explore a variety of different options and then make a commitment to a career that is a good fit – a ‘search and decide’ undertaking that can transpire over the course of many years.

If this weren’t stressful enough, the ability to gain, and retain, employment is becoming more difficult in our global economy in which many former jobs have become automated, creating fewer but more cognitively demanding positions, while employers cope with chronic pressure to slash costs. As a result, competition for those jobs that are actually available can be fierce.

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And unfortunately, even if we have done the difficult work of developing our career identity, pursued an education, and earned the necessary qualifications, so that we have the knowledge and abilities that the 21st Century job requires, we still may not have what employers want.

A recent review of the research literature on if job candidates are employable, i.e., perceived as having the potential to contribute to an organization, indicates that employability is determined by the three factors of RAW, i.e., rewarding, able, and willing:

1)   the job candidate is rewarding to deal with, so that he/she has strong interpersonal skills

2)   the job candidate possesses the ability and expertise that the work demands

3)   the job candidate demonstrates a willingness to work, as evidenced by ambition, drive, and a good work ethic

So this RAW model is inherently optimistic, as it suggests that if our ability is just average, we may be able to achieve career success via a tenacious determination. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Yet feeling like we not are working is not the same thing as success -- a recipe that requires two other ingredients. That is, individuals who fail to demonstrate all of the RAW components of employability, i.e., social skills, qualifications, and a strong work ethic, will be least successful -- whereas those who show evidence of having developed all three will be most successful.

Fortunately then, we can be the mater of our own fate. That is, by cultivating social skills, abilities, and drive we enhance not just our commitment to our career identity -- but our employability as well.

 

References

Hogan, R., Chamorro-Premuzic, T & Kaiser, R. B.(2013). Employability and career success: Bridging the gap between theory and reality. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 6(1), 3-16.

Kristine Anthis, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Southern Connecticut State University.

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