How to make yourself more employable

How to make yourself more employable

“If you want to earn a certain amount of money, develop yourself into the person who is worth being paid that amount of money.”

What does it mean to be employable?

‘Employ-ability’ is a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that make person’s more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy.

Employ-ability is not the same as gaining a job, rather it implies something about the capacity of the person to function in a job and be able to move between jobs, thus remaining employable throughout their life.
It comprises of a person:
1. To have a thorough understanding of a job
2. To have the necessary skills to do the job
3. To believe in one self that you have the ability to do the job
4. To have knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving.

Fast facts:

1. About 201 million people around the world are currently unemployed.
2. South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, with 51% of youth unemployed.
3. The Catch-22 of employment is that you ‘’cannot get work experience without work experience’’.
4. In South Africa more than 50% of youth never finish their basic education. They leave school by gr 10 or 16 years of age.
5. Kids who don’t read proficiently by 4th grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
6. The reasons for the high drop-out rate are lack of parental involvement, lack of money, difficulty keeping up with schoolwork, language barriers, gangsterism, drugs and teen pregnancies.
7. Young people who do not complete their basic education are the most vulnerable and their chances of employment are greatly reduced.
8. Having a Gr 12 certificate does not make a major difference in increasing the employment prospects of youth. What does make a difference is Gr 12 certificate + skills training or a higher qualification.
9. ‘’Born frees’’ (children born in the post-apartheid South Africa) suffer from a culture of entitlement and often refuse to take responsibility for their lives and education.
10. There are currently 800 000 unemployed graduates in South Africa.
11. It takes 1-3 years for a young person to become discouraged and stop looking for a job.

All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.

South African schooling comprises of 12 years of basic education.

Options of employment after completing basic education (Matric) are:

Basic education  – Higher education institution – Good chance of employment
Basic educationApprenticeship  – Good chance of employment
Basic education  – FET College – Maybe find employment
Basic education    Learnership – Maybe find employment

To be employable as an adult, you also need to learn certain sets of ‘soft skills’ while still in school. In times of high unemployment, employers will favour applicants with well-rounded employability skills.

Note: If you want to be employed one day, choose your career wisely.

Critical skill jobs always have job openings. Don’t pick the easiest route. You get out what you put in. To see how many jobs are available in your chosen career path in different areas  – type in the name of the career you want to pursue in our job search engine – for example ”Registered nurse” or ”librarian”. Pick an area. See how many job opportunities pops up in that career field. If it is one or two – be weary. If it is 200-300, you will have a better chance at finding employment.

Examples:     Teacher (364 jobs)                                 Registered nurse (355 jobs)

             Librarian  (2 jobs)                                            Lawyer (17 jobs)

7 Must have ‘’soft skills’’ to be an employable person:

1. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are the skills we use to interact with other people. Good interpersonal skills allow you to participate effectively as a member of a team, satisfy customers and clients’ expectations, negotiate, make decisions, manage your time efficiently, take responsibility, and work effectively with other employees. Well-honed interpersonal skills allow us to empathize and build rapport with colleagues and clients, leading to a better working environment which can be less stressful.

2. Communication skills

• Employers look for people who communicate well both verbally and in writing.
• The ability to communicate both verbally and in writing with a wide variety of people, maintain good eye contact, write clearly and succinctly, demonstrate a varied vocabulary and tailor your language to your audience are all essential skills that employers seek out. Good verbal and written communication means you can get your messages across with less chance of misunderstanding.
• Similarly, active listening skills involve not only hearing but gaining and understanding information. Listening is a basic requirement leading to fewer mistakes and a greater understanding of the needs of employer and client. Remember you have two ears and one mouth.

14 Proven Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

3. Critical thinking skills

• The ability to solve problems and make decisions can be a huge asset to your employer and these are therefore desirable skills to develop.
• Decision making and problem solving require gathering reliable information, evaluating the information for a variety of solutions and selecting the most appropriate option based on the criteria and situation.
• Creative thinkers are innovative and inventive and are more likely to devise new ways of doing things that add value to the work environment, making systems and procedures more efficient.

4. Presentation skills

• Presenting information clearly and effectively is a key skill in the work place and presentation skills are required in almost every modern employment area.
• Presenting information does not just include making formal presentations – information could be presented in the form of notes, reports, research findings, business plans, scenario planning, risk assessments and strategic documents.

5. Leadership skills

• Leadership is the ability to influence others toward the achievement of a goal.
• Leaders either have, or are perceived to have, strong self-confidence. Leaders are team players, allowing them to work in a group to achieve the best results for their employer. Leaders show social skills by respecting the thoughts, opinions and ideas of others – they gain the respect of others and aim for credibility.

6. Numeracy skills

• Numeracy involves an understanding of numerical data, statistics and graphs, and is also part of making decisions and reasoning.
• Numeracy skills are very important, irrespective of whether you consider a job to be “working with numbers”. Having competence and being confident in working with numbers is a skill that can be used to your advantage in a wide range of employment settings: for example, knowing how profitable a company is, understanding value for money when purchasing and ordering supplies, following a budget or just calculating your holiday time. Being able to understand and analyse data in different formats is considered an essential skill in many organisations.

7. IT skills

• Most people need some IT skills to find work today. Acquiring basic IT skills and being familiar with using a computer may open up a wide range of employment opportunities and increase your marketability in the workplace.
• It is likely that a modern job will require you to be familiar with at least some computer applications. Computer literacy means understanding what computers can and cannot do. Even if you know that you will not be using a computer in your job, it is well worth your while learning some of the basics of information technology, for example how to send and receive emails, use the internet effectively, and use word processor and spreadsheet software.


1. Improve your knowledge

The wisest people are those that never stop learning – those that are never too arrogant to believe they know it all. If you’re in the market for a job but are still on the shelf then it’s time to go back to school, whether it’s a short course, an apprenticeship or part-time education, it all counts towards making you more awesome and more employable. All new skills tend to have the ability to open doors in your chosen career path.

2. Get more experience

You could have tens of years’ experience in your field or be new to the game but either way, more experience is always going to be better than less. So think outside the box, if you’re new to the job market, seek out for junior positions and internships. In a job market like South Africa with an unemployment rate of 29% you can even consider to offer your services free of charge (volunteer) just to get experience or learn a new skill.  If you’re a veteran then gain experience that’s outside your comfort zone. It shows that you’re proactive and willing to go above and beyond.

3. Attitude

This may sound simple but attitude is everything. Positive things happen to positive people. Whether you’re speaking with potential employers on the phone, in person or just sending an email, you attitude, if positive will shine through. Having an attitude bright like a diamond will also set you apart from other candidates, ensuring your potential employers remember you. You may not be the most experienced candidate for the role, but if you go to the interview with a ‘can do’ attitude and a willingness to learn, this may just win you the job.

8 Ways to improve your attitude

4. Learn a new skill

It doesn’t really matter which skill you choose, it could be learning to drive, cooking, sowing, public speaking, writing or swimming, it shows you are able to learn new things, invest your time and have interests outside of your working life. New skills look excellent on your CV and these are something you can continuously build up. They also provide an excellent talking point in interviews, and will definitely work in your favour if you have something in common with the interviewer. What you will learn from developing new skills can be applied in your work life as well, transferable skills are all the rage!

5. Get IT smart

It’s getting harder and harder to escape the online world, so why not embrace it? If you’re a technophobe, it’s time to get with it. There are plenty of courses to help you improve your IT skills, and IT skills are now essential if you want to be completely awesome and get that job. If you have basic IT skills but feel you could be a little more savvy, then why not ask a younger family member to sit down and talk you through the latest in computers, trust me, kids today can type before they can talk, so they’ll be able to help you brush up.

10 Digital skills that can make students instantly employable

6. Get social

By getting social I don’t mean head down to your local pub and having a nice chat with your friends. I mean it is time to get social online. Sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter are great for job prospecting, networking and building up relationships with peers. But remember to be careful, sites such as Facebook and Instagram are a little more personal, and you don’t want your potential employers seeing something you want to keep private. These sites have privacy settings, make sure you use them.

7. Be productive

If you are out of work for a while use your time wisely. You have a long list (above) of activities to be carrying out, so make sure you do these things while you can. Work experience, classes, new skills, working on your attitude, it all counts to making you a better person. So use your unemployment wisely. It will pay off in the end.

8. Have a to die for CV

Take a fresh look at your CV. Is it a one pager or six pager? Do you have an infograph? Take this time out to go through your CV thoroughly. Update your resume to include all your new experience, knowledge and skills.

9. Practice your interview techniques

All your hard work has paid off and you’ve got the interview; you don’t want to crumble under pressure, so make sure you’re prepared. Making a list of the possible interview questions you may be asked and practicing your answers will ensure you’re not left tripping over your tongue in the interview. It can be hard to think up answers during a job interview, practice will allow you to wow them with your well thought out answers and calmness under pressure.

10 Interviewing rules

10. Dress first class

We’ve all heard the old saying, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’, and it couldn’t be more true for interview situations. This could be the only time you ever see these people (if you don’t get the job) so make sure you’re dressed to impress!

Advice for the unemployed:

”No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up and never give up.” Regina Brett

Struggling to find a job?

Here is help in finding a job:

MobieG created this job search engine to assist people in looking for job opportunities. The system constantly scans all South African job websites to allow you to find new opportunities.

Find a job

“Nothing will work unless you try”


You may chat to an online facilitator if you need more help and advice. The service is free and you may remain anonymous. Just click on: Live chat


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