Employability & Career Success:Bridging the Gap / Theory and Reality


This paper reviews the existing literature on employability and highlights the difference between what researchers think determines employee potential and what employers actually look for.

The authors find that while organizational psychologists emphasize traits like intelligence, personality, and educational achievement, employers weigh social skills more heavily. This disconnect means that much of the research around employability deemphasizes a key aspect of how hiring managers themselves define it. 

The authors propose a more integrated model for defining employability that combines psychological traits such as interpersonal skills and ambition with job skills and intelligence.

Key Points:

  • Employability is an attribution employers make about the probability that job candidates will make positive contributions to their organizations.
  • For employers, the most important element of employability is a person’s social skills.
  • Social skills as an element of employability have traditionally been deemphasized in scientific literature.


Models that measure employability and employee potential need to take into account what employers actually want—specifically, the interpersonal skills necessary to succeed at the job.

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