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Study Identifies Four Elements That Lead to Employability

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University and two other schools studied what makes people employable. They found that four elements best indicate future employment prospects.

Over the past several decades, job security for U.S. workers has been declining to the point that many now realize they can’t rely on long-term employment with a single organization.

Layoffs that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic underscored that belief, with affected employees in many industries expressing their dismay at the lack of loyalty shown by their employers.

Because of widespread job security concerns that require workers to emphasize their own employability, researchers at Florida Atlantic University and two other schools studied what makes people employable. They found that four elements best indicate future employment prospects.

“We set out to understand what characteristics do and do not make people employable,” said Michael B. Harari, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and associate professor of human resource management in FAU’s College of Business. “The results showed that employability is largely a function of one’s knowledge and skills, social networks, adaptability and self-insight.

The research, published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, revealed that a person’s circumstances, including their gender and status as a part-time or full-time employee, are not reliable predictors of employability.

It also found that demonstrating competencies that hiring managers claim they are looking for, such as work ethic and good interpersonal skills, doesn’t greatly influence employability.

“Our work helps the current wave of job seekers understand how to maximize their chances of success by, for example, developing the knowledge and skills needed to begin new careers and by building and drawing upon their social networks,” Harari said.

He worked on the study with Kate McCombs, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Brock School of Business at Samford University, and Brenton M. Wiernik, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Florida.

The researchers conducted a systematic review of employability studies, statistically combining the results of more than 200 studies to reach definitive conclusions.