The Misunderstanding of Employability

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Is ‘employability’ the new mantra used by corporates to demand conformity?

 It would appear so, if you look at the number of corporate recruiters advising freshers in campuses to become and/or stay employable. It is a promise that lot of the ‘candidates’ find very attractive. The price they pay? Do more of what the company wants you do. Be more like what employers like you to be like.

 Corporates are telling vulnerable freshers: “If you want to be employable, this is what you should do: research and learn more about our company before you come in for the interview; think through some innovative things that you would recommend we do; show keenness to join us; ask intelligent questions about our company’s future plans.”.

 ‘Employability’ as a word seems has been truly and completely hijacked by the corporates.

 There is an orchestrated campaign in the press about how many of our engineers are not employable. Universities have been blamed for the curriculum as well as the lax standards in awarding grades. This is a blatant attempt to recruit educational institutions as co-conspirators to produce grads who will be ready to do the company’s bidding from Day One. Using recruitment to bully educational institutions is scare mongering.

 As per usage, the word employability has completely different connotations for the hiring company and for the ‘candidate’ employee. For the organisation, employability means the ability to deploy the ‘willing’ resource in the most suitable part of the company, to become as hugely productive as possible, in the shortest possible time.

For the employee, employability means having skill sets that will give them the opportunity to present oneself as an attractive candidate to as many companies as possible.

He/She would like to showcase multiple skills to have multiple companies wooing them.

 These two interpretations of employability can be contradictory, with the employee and the company pulling in opposite directions. Either way, when one of them buys into the other’s definition, the relationship between the employee and the company is bound to turn sour, once they discover each other’s expectations from employability.

 However, the possibility of this rift with the company is likely only for the brighter employees, the ones who bring genuine value to the job, through rare, high quality and specialised skills. Once the company’s definition and expectation from being employable is known, most of the ‘also-ran’ employees with ‘vanilla’ skill sets will simply settle down and comply with whatever the company wants from them. The Empire wins again!

 There is a vicious war out there for good talent. This is a great opportunity for those with high quality skills, good attitudes, reasonably competent inter-personal/team behaviours and a willingness to learn anything and everything that will propel them towards who they want to become.

It is important for good and talented people to stick steadfast to their own definition of, and requirement from, employability.

 The good candidates need to stay focused on their own vision, goals, pace of acquiring appropriate knowledge and demand that the organisation give them plenty of opportunities to showcase and build on their talents. At any given time, a good candidate should know his/her market worth. They should be confident of landing a job that will take them faster towards their goals, without breaking a sweat. They should have solid proof for the relevance and wide applicability for all their skills. Their goals will be aligned to serve the single purpose of continually making themselves more and more employable.

 A truly employable candidate will talk about what he/she brings to the organisation, and in return, what he/she expects from the company by way of opportunities to grow himself/herself. For a genuinely employable candidate, an offer for employment from a company is not an end in itself. “Will this job make me more employable?” is the primary question that the organisation needs to answer to snap up a good candidate as an employee.  

 Your employability is definitely good only if the balance of power between you and your employer is undoubtedly tilted in your favour. 

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