What Does Employment vs. Employability Mean For Your Career?

Question for all the job-seekers out there:

What is your endgame?

What I mean is: Are you looking for a job, or are you ready to begin a career?

(Note: If you are “just” looking for a job, there’s nothing wrong with that at all.)

The reason I ask is, the way you approach your job search depends greatly on the type of position you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for a job – perhaps an hourly or per-diem gig – your focus should be on employment skills.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking to begin a new career, you’ll need to balance your focus between employment skills and employability skills.

In the following article, we’ll discuss exactly what these terms entail – and why it’s important to shift your focus accordingly depending on what you’re looking for.


Employment Skills

Employment skills are the skills required to complete a specific job.

These are the actionable abilities and bases of knowledge a job candidate comes to the table with that prove they’ll be able to do the job in question.

For example, a person applying for a receptionist job will likely be required to use Microsoft Office at an advanced level, be able to type a certain amount of words per minute, and have better-than-average writing skills.

Without these skills, there’s no way the candidate would be considered a top prospect for an advertised clerical position.

Whether you’re simply looking for a job or are looking for an entry-level position to jump start your career, you’ll absolutely need to show you have employment skills.

But, while employment skills are necessary to get your foot in the door, they aren’t enough to help you climb the ladder in your chosen career.

That’s where employability comes in.

Employability Skills

While employment skills are, quite simply, the bare minimum necessary to get hired, employability skills can allow you to gain some upward mobility in your career.

Also known as soft skills, employability skills are the “intangible” abilities that often separate excellent employees from run-of-the-mill workers.

Some of the most sought-after employability skills are:

  • Communication/teamwork skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Responsibility

Exhibiting such skills (in addition to basic employment skills) proves that you’d be a valuable asset to an organization not just in position you’re being considered for, but in many other spots as well. In other words, because you have these soft skills, it’s probable that you’re able to fill more than one role within a company.

Perhaps the most important employability skill or characteristic is being a lifelong learner. While the run-of-the-mill worker may be stuck in the same job for years on end because they’re unwilling (or unable) to learn higher-level skills, lifelong learners are not just able to quickly learn new skills and information – they actively work to do so.

Even if you are just looking for a job at the current moment, keep in mind that honing your employability skills is what will truly make you marketable – and will help launch you to levels of success you might never have thought possible.


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