Finding a job can be stressful and expensive. Discover what skills employers are looking for that will make you more employable, and increase your chances of finding a job. No matter what qualifications you have, employers are looking for young people with “marketable skills” who are ready to work. "Marketable skills" are often called “soft skills” or "transferable skills” because they can be used in different jobs. Your marketable skills are developed over time and with experience. That is why work experience is so important.

Marketable skills are skills and qualities about yourself that make you a good employee. Your marketable skills are your personal qualities that make you different from other people and will get employers to notice you. Apart from meeting the qualification requirements as asked for in the job advert, some employers are more interested in your marketable skills.

What marketable skills are employers looking for?

Employers are looking for employees who have or can demonstrate the following qualities and skills:

  • Good communication skills - being able to speak or communicate well with other people, including your manager and customers, and able to listen and follow instructions

  • Basic numeracy skills - basic maths literacy, being able to solve simple calculations for the workplace such as working out discounts, ratios, reading graphs and charts

  • Organising and planning skills - able to manage your tasks, plan ahead and manage your own time

  • Problem-solving skills - being able to come up with solutions to problems, work on your own and learn how to do your job quickly and effectively

  • Adaptability - being able to work with different people in different environments, for example, working under stress/pressure and adapting easily to different situations

  • Teamwork - able to work well in a group, do your part, help your coworkers and do more than what is expected from you

  • Good work ethic - always having a positive attitude, being on-time for work, not calling in sick too often and going the extra mile by doing more than is expected of you

  • Leadership skills or Management skills - able to help others, manage other people or organise them, able to take the lead when it is required from you

  • Entrepreneurial skills - any activities or informal jobs you started to earn extra money

  • Basic Computer skills - understanding the basics of computer programmes like Outlook, emailing, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel, GAAP and other point of sale systems

  • Continued learning - evidence that shows you are keen to learn new skills and improve yourself through online learning or short courses

Try the JobStarter Learning to develop your skills.

Here are some useful tips to help you discover your marketable skills:

  • Think about what you are good at and what you enjoy doing.
  • Talk to the people around you. Ask a friend, brother or sister, parent, guardian, family member or elder for advice and what they think you are good at and why they think that. The more you talk about it, the clearer the answer will become. Ask them what they will say if they have to tell someone about you?
  • Try searching for a free online “career quiz” or “strengths finder quiz” on Google that could help you discover more about yourself, your skills and your career.

Here are some useful strengthsfinder tests:

How to improve your marketable skills:

  • You can try free online courses like those offered on JobStarter.
  • Read more about how job-shadowing and volunteering can help you develop your marketable skills and help you make a decision about what you are interested in doing while gaining valuable work experience.

Next Step: Learn more about the job market and where the most jobs are available for people with no work experience.