Top 10 Employability Skills You Must Have

Different jobs will ask you to meet different criteria for employment. You can only apply to certain positions if you have a specific degree; you can only fill an open management position if you have vast experience on your resume — but there’s a particular skill set that is in high demand throughout the job market.

Employability skills are the common thread bringing most job requirements closer to each other. These skills are easily transferable from one job to another, as they are not about your job specifically — but rather, about how you can use your knowledge, convey ideas, and face difficult situations.

Employees face a dynamic job market, one where they will have to prove themselves as reliable and competitive. With these 10 employability skills you will increase your value as a worker, no matter what your area of expertise is.

1. Out-Of-The-Box Thinking

Everyone can come up with a solution born out of old college books. Employers are looking for people with the “it” factor – that is, someone who can be creative on the spot and offer solutions no other worker can give. We live in a highly-competitive market, and the only way to make a difference is to think differently.

2. Proactiveness

You not only have to think differently, but you have to take the initiative to do so. As long as you are ahead of the race, you have plenty of time to be different than the rest.

That’s what proactiveness is all about: taking the initiative and solving issues before everyone else knows they are happening. You have to neutralize the fire before anyone else smells smoke.

3. Decisiveness

The perfect employee trifecta is made out of creativity, initiative, and decisiveness – this last one is key to making the other two work. You have to be sure of what you have to offer. Doubting yourself will make you sell yourself and your skills short.

You have to be able to come up with a new solution, put it into action, and not second guess yourself. The minute you doubt, someone else takes the opportunity – and you are left with nothing.

4. Solution Mindset

Your employer is going to hire you to solve problems. Issues arise every working day, and you have to be ready to attack them head-on. What you don’t have to do is dwell on them. Your entire focus should be on the solution, not the problem.

5. Teamwork

Even the best employee will have to work along with other co-workers. The best workplace environment is a harmonious work environment – and it can only be obtained with people who can and will work with each other, whether they agree on things or not.

Lone wolves only work in the movies. In real-life, they can create a toxic workplace. If you cannot handle different people and ideas, you will be soon left out of a job.

6. Negotiation Mentality

Sometimes teamwork isn’t enough. Sometimes you will have to compromise – or make someone else compromise. That’s where negotiation skills come in handy. You will have to think about how to fix possible issues between the workforce. That’s what employers are looking for, people who can keep the peace in ever-growing work environments.

7. Communication

Communication comes hand-in-hand with negotiation skills and teamwork – there’s no way to have these two without proper communication. And communication skills will get you far, both with your co-workers and your superiors.

This is probably the most important skill in this whole list. You might have the best ideas and the fastest solutions, but they are worthless if you can’t convey them properly.

8. Leadership

You cannot let your leadership skills show right away, you first have to earn your spot in the company first. You must show your willingness to take control of the situation and command people when it is deemed appropriate.

Leadership skills can get you the job and future promotions as well.

9. Persuasiveness

This is similar to both communication and negotiation skills. In fact, it’s a mixture of both. You have to be able to convince people of your ideas. Because, sometimes, having a good idea isn’t good enough – you will have to convince others of it.

10. An Open Mind

This is an absolute must. No matter how good you are, you have to be able to learn and adapt, no matter how different and eccentric the idea you are facing is.

Those who cannot adapt cannot thrive – those who cannot thrive are soon out of a job.


6 Tips to Speed Read Faster

Do you know how to read faster? Better still, CAN you read faster? Reading is one skill that people around the world take for granted. As parents, we’re more concerned about teaching our kids to read, but hardly bother about the speed of reading.

Your Potential to Be a Speed Reader

In this age of information overload, we cannot ignore speed reading. In fact, we cannot do without this skill.

There is so much to read in a day — the morning newspaper, emails — both important and otherwise. And don’t forget office reports, publications, books for those who love to read, magazines, study material for those who have enrolled in courses, reading the moving television headlines or movie casting, and lots more. You cannot think of assimilating all this stuff without a good speed in reading.

Contrary to popular belief, reading textbooks and several feet high study material during your school days doesn’t necessarily make you a fast reader. There are people who have reached the zenith of education, yet take their sweet time in finishing just one page. It’d help them immensely to know tips on how to read faster, so that they can utilize their time better.

Moreover, reading fast doesn’t mean you simply scan the words without comprehending them. A good reader reads efficiently while absorbing and processing whatever is written.

6 Easy Tips on How to Read Faster

  1. Move your hands from the right margin of the page to the left one while reading.
  2. Let your eyes follow the movement of your hand. Try to be physically quick but limited to a pace that allows you to understand each line. Your peripheral vision can help with guessing the words at the end of the line, potentially doubling your overall reading speed. Regular practice can increase your speed by another 10 to 15 percent.
  3. Avoid speaking each word aloud while you read. Sub-vocalization decreases your speed tremendously. Moreover, you need to speak words aloud only when you’re giving a presentation, or improving your pronunciation, or training in sound pitch and accent.
  4. Scan the text quickly before actually reading it. This helps your mind to detect paragraphs that contain useful information, so that you can read them later. Scanning also trains your brain to assimilate information at an accelerated rate. The technique also helps to read better when you need to read several or more pages in a short space of time. With practice, you can teach your brain to grasp 400-500 words per minute!
  5. As you read, visualize the words at the back of your mind.
  6. Try a speed reading program online.

A Plan to Hone Your Reading Skills

Many websites offer easy remedies and tricks to help you increase the speed of reading. To read faster, first unlearn any habits that cause you to read slowly. A couple of poor reading habits are to: (i) re-read or skip back to read the line again and (ii) read while the television or music are going.

If you wish to know how to read faster, you need to increase your concentration. It also helps to have a good vocabulary, so that you come across fewer “strange” words and need not grab the dictionary again and again for them.

Hope the above tips on how to read faster help you become a fast reader. You can read more in a day and enrich your life with greater knowledge.

A number of speed reading sites offer tricks and techniques to help you master speed reading. Visit them to get audio files and more tips on how to read faster.


Cross-Disciplinary Skills


For many technical or specialist jobs, there’s a clear career path from school to the desired job. And for positions not requiring specialist knowledge, the minimum educational requirements combined with a winning personality and work experience can often seal the deal.

But the transition to leadership positions presents a more blurred picture. CEOs with years of education and experience in management from large corporate organisations now mix with fresh graduates with multi-billion-dollar ideas.

Almost half of today’s jobs could be taken over by machines over the next 10–20 years, and 75% of the world’s most valuable companies will be replaced by 2027. So how can you prepare for such an unclear future?

“The answer is STEM,” says the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Assistant Minister for Science.

“It’s the ability to think methodically about your work; to solve problems critically and systematically. Employers want to know that you have the skills to navigate new environments quickly and authoritatively.”

Leonie Walsh, Lead Scientist to the Victorian Government, adds that employers of tomorrow are looking for “a better balance of skills including academia, active learning and business competencies”.

“A changing marketplace requires students to be more adaptable and flexible, and have good interpersonal and communication skills,” she adds.

You may want to start a business based on cross-disciplinary skills – both your STEM skills and business knowledge. Traditionally, this has been seen as an unusual choice, with around 1200 tech startups currently in Australia – a mere 0.06% of all Australian businesses.

But in December 2015, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a $1.1 billion package to fund ideas and innovation to support high-impact entrepreneurship.

Many Australian universities are already developing programs that encourage cross-disciplinary skills, solutions-based learning and an entrepreneurial mindset.

“There’s no best option, but we’re moving into a period where there’s more support to explore becoming an entrepreneur, and risk-taking is seen as a positive thing,” says Leonie.

Whichever path you choose, there’s no better place than a university to pick up the key cross-disciplinary skills and opportunities you’ll need for a successful career.

“Grab any opportunity you can, and where one doesn’t exist, create it,” says Karen.


Agile Skills

Jump-start a stellar career and build agile skills by forging your industry links early.

Let’s face it, taking on undergraduate and postgraduate studies can sound like a slog. But that investment could pay off big time through a rewarding career.

The ultimate destination of most postgraduates is with industry. Australia’s 2014 Postgraduate Destinations survey showed the private sector employs more than a third of postgrads (38.3%). A further 25.5% of postgraduates find work in education, 15.8% in health and 11.8% in government.

Whatever the industry, today’s workplace is changing rapidly. Traditional employment models are being replaced by agile work environments focussed on the ability to respond to fast-changing global markets.

Being ‘T-Shaped’

Employers want people who are flexible and adaptable – often described as T-shaped – who have deep skills in a specialised area but are also able to apply their talents more broadly.

Postgraduate degrees can be highly specialised, but during your study you will develop agile skills across a range of other useful areas. Information technology and communication skills are good to acquire if you can, especially with businesses looking towards graduate to help keep their organisations digitally up to date.

Andrew Purchas, the national account manager at GradConnection, says employers value the deep analytical and research skills postgraduates have. “A lot of students have in-depth knowledge in a niche field, but also present themselves to employers with transferable skills from their study,” he says.

These include time management, organisational ability, presentation skills, research capability and networking – but they can also encompass talents that are in demand in your chosen field. Postgraduates who make connections with industry early – during their studies, for example – are well placed to develop the agile skills they’ll need to score amazing jobs.

An Environmental Edge Through Agile Skills

Michelle Senerman Finkelstein worked with consultancy firm Edge Environment while doing a Master of Sustainability at the University of Sydney. She helped develop a proposal for an app that helps consumers assess product lifecycles by scanning supermarket barcodes.

“I think it’s vital for postgraduates to build industry links while they’re studying,” Michelle says. “It helps tie the two together – your work has context and your studies make more sense.”

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) senior research scientist Dr Krystyna Saunders worked in labs analysing naturally occurring radioisotopes in lake sediments while completing her PhD on the human impact on environments. This work led to her current research-based role.

“You need to be open to different opportunities as they arise, even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do in the end,” she says.

Race Ahead to the Endgame

Forensic chemist Dr Adam Cawley is science manager at Racing NSW, where he heads the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory and works at the forefront of forensic drug analysis.

Much of his PhD, which looked at the detection of androgenic steroids in athletes, was done during an industry partnership with the National Measurement Institute, the organisation responsible for Australia’s measurement standards.

He says agile skills are critical in his field. “My work has evolved from organic chemistry to managing a research project on gene doping.”

Adam says students can focus on their degree endgame through industry-PhD partnerships, completing research that will jump-start their career.

“There are advantages for everyone – industry receives the benefit of a really good academic project and students are able to spend a large amount of time in labs with access to real data,” he says.


STEM Skills Take You Further

By combining STEM skills with other fields of interest, you can customise your career.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that jobs requiring STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and maths) has grown at about 1.5 times the rate of other roles in recent years. Yet only 18% of the Australian workforce has STEM qualifications.

Design, engineering, science, transport and ICT professionals are the fastest growing occupations. This has created a strong need for skilled workers in areas you might not expect.

The Australian Industry Group is a dedicated national advocate for the advancement of STEM skills and knowledge, which are fundamentally important for the growth of the Australian economy.

  • Our Survey of Workforce Development Needs indicates that almost 44% of employers continue to experience difficulties recruiting STEM qualified technicians and trade workers.
  • Around 20% have difficulties finding appropriately trained professionals and managers.

STEM expertise can transform our society and economy.

Innes Willox

Despite this need, Australia’s international performance in STEM lags behind many other comparable countries, which are improving their provision, participation and performance more rapidly.

In the tertiary education sector, participation in STEM-related disciplines is in decline in absolute terms, in contrast with comparable nations. We need many more STEM graduates and postgraduates.

If you’re considering a postgraduate degree, these fields offer many rewarding job options beyond academia. STEM expertise can transform our society and economy, while enabling you to work across a broad range of exciting new career areas.

Innes Willox
Innes Willox

To find out more about building a fantastic career through cross-disciplinary skills, read about pairing science and engineering with business and leadership in Cross-disciplinary Edge, learn about being agile and forging industry links in Staying Agile, and discover how to increase Your Earning Potential in the process!