Back to all articles

August 25, 2022

What Is Employability?

Why is employability crucial in today’s rapidly changing job market? Learn how to future-proof your professional skills.

Frida Chacin Kulak - Tech Writer


All Courses

The world of work is transforming in front of our eyes, thanks in great part to the exponential growth in the use of new technologies and the speed at which digital tools like Artificial Intelligence are catching on across nearly all industries. However, the value of employability remains unchanged through these transformations– and that’s exactly why your employability skills and traits are the most important factor in getting you hired!

While its importance is still incontestable, what the word ‘employability’ actually entails has certainly shifted in the last two decades. Recruiters’ priorities are very different for us than they were for our parents at our age, and we’re about to see exactly why!

Employability in the Classic Office: the 9 to 5 Hustle Culture

Not too long ago, employability was understood as a much more straightforward, though rigid, set of workplace expectations: you had to fit a specific profile to be considered a good candidate for an ‘office’ job. Through the 90’s and early 2000’s, television and media ingrained into us what we now call the American ‘hustle culture’-- just those words must have given you a clear image of fluorescent light fixtures, grey cubicles, water-cooler talk…

Remote work wasn’t a thing, not with the technology we had back then: you were expected to turn up to work in an office building five days a week, no exceptions or hybrid schedules, and sit there from 9 am to 5 pm. The commute ate up a significant part of your day, stuck in traffic among many others who were going to their jobs exactly like you. And, notably, getting a job with an unusual educational background or experience was rare: to work in Tech, you needed a computer science degree, of course! Higher education was a must for high-paying jobs (and this is still the status quo in many industries, to this day!).

And of course, you’d have to face the classic chicken and egg problem: how could you get a job when you started your career and had no previous work experience, when every entry-level job required experience to access it? The grind was mandatory, and putting in more hours than you were supposed to was considered a good thing– how else would you show your boss you were a hard worker? We coined a whole slew of terms to define burnout syndromes, because we reached levels we’d never seen before… but no worries, because the weekend was always just around the corner! TGIF!

Sound familiar? 

What’s worse: hustle culture is far from gone. In many of the less dynamic industries, workplaces still haven’t abandoned these habits. Thankfully, the tech industry, historically one of the biggest examples of these toxic work environments, is now at the spearhead of change in workplace culture.

And how has workplace culture evolved in the last decade?

How Employability Is Evolving Towards The Future

The world of work has changed, but the twist is that these changes will keep happening more and more often. The technological revolution we saw happen in the later decades of the last century has only accelerated. As a direct consequence, our new understanding of employability is inherently tied to flexibility.

The ability to adapt quickly to changes in the workplace is a must, particularly after the forced shift to remote work brought about by the pandemic. The new workplace moves quickly and demands different ways of working and even changes in career specialization; instead of investing time and effort into a particular mode of work, software program, or specific field of study, the best bet is to master the subtler soft skills that will help you catch up with the trends and market shifts, acquire new proficiencies quickly, and stay employable throughout your entire career.

Hard or technical skills keep losing importance as technologies like AI match human skill and take over some tasks. It’s no concern, however, if you’ve put your focus on developing those skills that, in their subjectivity and complexity, machines won’t be able to replicate in a very long time (if ever): for example, critical thinking skills, interpersonal and communication abilities, and other soft skills that are transferable across industries are guaranteed to retain their value and their place of importance in your resume.

Attitude is a big part, too! Gone are the days when your learning period ended in your twenties. Willingness to learn is an absolute must for entry level roles and non-traditional educational backgrounds, but also for more experienced professionals that need to keep their skill set current. The other side of the coin is that formal education requirements are not as rigid. Basically, it's more important that you're a good fit for the role than whether you have a fancy degree or not.

Alternative ways of showcasing your skills and experience are also much more accepted and even demanded. While previous experience is still very important, you have many more ways to acquire it: freelancing, building your own projects and portfolio, and participating in open source initiatives, collaborations, or hackathons will speak highly of your self-motivation, initiative, and resourcefulness, which, you guessed it– are all highly-valued transferable skills!

In short: what recruiters are checking is whether you have the right skills for the job, not ALL of the skills listed in the job description (and this is also why we only teach the most in-demand skills for the market rather than teaching you absolutely everything you could ever want to know about tech, by the way!).

What You Can Do To Improve Your Employability

As we’ve seen, companies’ priorities when it comes to hiring have shifted to a more flexible position, that is open to profiles and perspectives more diverse than before, but simultaneously demands versatility and boldness. Your resume and professional presence online tell a story that they want to be captivated by; your mindset, approach to work, and passion are key.

And how can you show you have what it takes? 

It’s not enough to just list your qualifications, experiences, and things you’ve done: you have to frame them into a narrative that tells exactly who you are and what you bring to the table. This is called your personal brand: make sure your information available online is consistent, keeping both your resume and your LinkedIn profile up to date and using the algorithm to your advantage. Building your own website and finessing your portfolio will also speak to your other skills and give you an opportunity to highlight what you consider your best successes and traits.

Also, don’t tell recruiters that you’re a lifelong learner: show it! Investigate other areas of study, particularly those that might come in handy in the career path you want; try out new hobbies, courses and experiences, read different books, and, in general, give new things a go! 

Additional education beyond university degrees is more highly considered than ever before, so don’t hesitate to check out free online courses and other available, intensive no-nonsense for professionals… like an Ironhack bootcamp!

Whether you’re looking to get into tech, or just want to complement your resume with Web Development, UX/UI, Data Analytics or Cybersecurity expertise, Ironhack teaches you the crucial skills to start applying your tech skills from the get-go. Check out our bootcamps!

Related Articles

Recommended for you

Ready to join?

More than 10,000 career changers and entrepreneurs launched their careers in the tech industry with Ironhack's bootcamps. Start your new career journey, and join the tech revolution!