7 Attributes To Assure Your Working Future

Posted On 13 Jul 2022

7 Attributes To Assure Your Working Future

13 Jul 2022
What is employability?

Candidate Resource, Employable, Employer Resource, EST10 Team, News & Events

What is employability?

Employability is insurance for your future. It is future-proofing yourself, giving yourself the freedom to choose your own path. The concept of employability is crucial to understand and embrace if you are to stay current and relevant in this ever-changing time.

In its simplest terms, employability is what makes someone more likely to gain employment, keep employment and be successful in their chosen occupation. It’s made up of a set of continual achievements: skills, experience, understanding and personal attributes. However, employability is complex – it’s not just a ‘tick the box’ exercise. It is your mindset. It includes ‘soft skills’ and an understanding of how to put your transferable skills into practice.

Employability benefits everyone – the individual, the workforce, the community and the economy.
In my 25-plus years at the coalface of employment, I’ve found there is an increasing shortage of employable people.

Being employable is not the same as being employed.
Having a job does not necessarily mean you are employable.

No-one has an accurate idea or data to predict with certainty how the employment world will look in the near or distant future. That means that if you are privileged to be employed right now, looking at ways to reskill and upskill while within the safety of your job will go a long way to future-proofing your continued employment. The fragility of what the world experienced with COVID‑19 has taught us that we must never sit on our hands. The responsibility lies only with you to make your professional development a priority.

If you are struggling to find work, you may benefit from reading this book in full, then taking stock of the areas you need to focus on. If you are a recent graduate, you need to be thinking about potential workplaces and evaluating your skill set for areas to develop. You have youth and time on your side – two benefits that are wonderful but pass quickly, missed by all who once had them!

In our current times, no matter whether you stay with your employer or change jobs and companies, knowing the attributes that make you employable will be imperative to your success.

It is dangerous to think just because you have a job you are employable. It’s even more precarious to think just because you have a job you will forever have a job or work in that same company.

Nothing lasts forever, which is the first lesson you learn in kindergarten. Yet, you might find that you still take things for granted or try to cling to conditions that long ago lost their usefulness or positive influence on your life.


We have recently witnessed a swift upskilling in using technology for remote working. Five years ago, would you ever have imagined holding meetings via Zoom, or having telephone or video appointments with your doctor? Occasionally, maybe – particularly if you are travelling overseas – but not as the new normal.

There are jobs now that we’d never heard of a decade ago. According to the World Economic Forum, 65 per cent of primary school children will end up working in new job types that aren’t even on your radar yet.

Seven jobs that no longer exist
1. Human alarm clock
2. Lamplighter
3. Milkman
4. Night-cart man
5. Punch-card operator
6. Rat catcher
7. Switchboard operator

Seven jobs that are unlikely to exist in ten years
1. Cashier
2. Data entry operator
3. Legal secretary
4. Receptionist
5. Social media manager
6. Telemarketer
7. Travel agent

Seven jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago
1. Blogger or vlogger
2. Cloud specialist
3. Drone pilot
4. Influencer
5. Listening officer
6. Social media analyst
7. Sustainability manager

Being employable is also about being ‘on course’ – aiming to be on par with or, ideally, a step ahead of your peers.

Without a skerrick of doubt, companies will be looking at totally different skill sets in the future. This will mean you need to act today and be ready for the change ahead of time. These actions don’t have to be big – incremental shifts are all that is required. Mentally accepting this concept is your first step.

The only real certainty is that uncertainty is the new normal. As I write this book, we are coming out from under the shroud of COVID‑19 and many economists, the press and politicians are saying this might be one of the toughest economic climates Australia has faced. Our world has changed in ways we could never have foreseen. We have not seen an employment market like this before. We’re navigating an entirely different working arena, one where technology is key to survive and thrive and for the first time ever, we have five generations all working together.

Through my work in recruitment, I saw firsthand the devastation COVID‑19 has wrought. Between March and June 2020, my company fielded daily calls from the unemployed – people desperate and helpless after losing their jobs and fearful of losing their livelihoods.

Being confronted with this brought home the reality of how fragile our world is and how much we rely and depend upon our jobs – whether we realise, acknowledge or like it. This is why I have written this book – to help you find new ways, new skills and new attitudes to ensure your employability, no matter what situation you find yourself in.

The COVID‑19 pandemic is not the only framework for you to test your employability. Any instability, be it economic, social or simply disruptive, will spark the talent competition and benefit
those who decided to invest in their own development, learning and growth. The moment in time when this is done is crucial. Early adapters always win.

The world rate of change has been accelerating rapidly for decades now, and if you feel anxious about that, you are not alone. According to research by global leadership company Accenture, 64 per cent of the global workforce is experiencing high anxiety over their personal job security.

Technology advancements will occur – there is nothing more certain. Even if you are young now and technology is second nature to you, don’t assume you will always be across what is new. Make sure you do not feel too comfortable; challenge your agility and make sure you’re regularly across new developments.

You always need to be employable – no matter where you are at, and no matter where the economy is at.


This concept of being employable is vital for anyone who relies on an income to support themselves. The days of lifelong tenure are long gone. In fact, depending on how old you are, you may never have heard of or witnessed this concept.

As I shared in the preface, I operated at an instinctual level for most of my early working life. However, thanks to the fact that my career depended on being acutely aware of all the necessities and changes in the employment landscape, I, too, started to see how essential it is to be employable. An occupational hazard/benefit, you could say!

The key is to shift from being instinctive to deliberate in your ongoing professional development.

You need to take full responsibility for your future career direction. Owning the process and consequences gives you a better sense of freedom, no matter the environment you find yourself in. It is the choice and not the ‘accident’ that will decide how successful you are.

In this zone, you are honing and fine-tuning the ‘craft’ of being employable. You don’t have to be a hyper-dedicated, studious, nerdy, highbrow, ambitious, serious sort of person to be employable. You really can just be an improved you! Being employable belongs to you as much as anyone else.


Although being employable does not have to be difficult, it doesn’t just happen. Effort, patience and practice are required.

You need to work at it. You have to do things you would rather not and make sacrifices and compromises. Employability means being in the uncomfortable zone sometimes. To learn, develop and improve takes effort, just like developing and strengthening a new muscle: it can hurt at the beginning, but then it grows and develops and becomes stronger. It may even cause enough pain that you start to rethink whether you should continue. Don’t be fooled! This is the unknown, instinctive and irrational side of the brain, according to Jungian psychology.

It will take effort, time, consistency and endurance, but if you stop and then go back to it, which is also okay, you will have already developed what is popularly referred to as muscle memory. Like any well-formed and repeated habit, it does get easier, because the previous tough times tested your mettle and showed you that you could do it.

Like all journeys, sometimes it will be easy-peasy, freewheeling, even lackadaisical, and other times it may feel like a constant uphill battle. The uphill battles, though, are often the biggest opportunities. The learning they present to you can catapult you forward, much further than you’d travel stuck in cruise control.

Working on being employable will give you a sense of security, safety and freedom to choose. It is no different to looking after your physical health by choosing to eat well and exercise. By being employable, you are looking after your employment health.


During my career I’ve met with many good people who have been made redundant or sacked. They tell me their stories and, in some cases, I read between the lines and can see what has really occurred: their lack of joy and enthusiasm for their job is the reason we find ourselves discussing their next career move. Often they admit that they didn’t particularly like their job.

Now, redundancy occurs when a role is no longer required. It’s not to be used as a way to performance-manage a person out of an organisation. The reality is, though, when companies and hiring managers are choosing which roles are to be on the redundancy list, employability can count. As an example, if 20 customer service roles need to be cut out of a team of 50, your attitude and enthusiasm for your role could potentially be part of that decision.

To be clear, though, in a lot of cases redundancy isn’t due to your employability – it’s just what happens sometimes in life. In these cases, your employability will get you through the process of looking for a new role far more easily.

As previously mentioned, when I graduated, we were right in the throes of the 1990s recession. I had been fortunate enough to have a wonderful part-time job throughout my time at university – I worked at David Jones department store on Friday nights and Saturdays, and as many hours as I could during the university breaks. I didn’t feel the recession while studying – my costs and expenses were low: alcohol, rent, food and petrol (in that order). We didn’t spend much on clothes in those days – your wardrobe contained the stuff your parents would buy for you and you made it last.

When I graduated, I found a job in Daimaru, a new Japanese department store that had just famously opened in Melbourne. My experience at David Jones, combined with my degree and language skills, made it relatively easy to secure that job.

After around six months, Daimaru made more than 100 people redundant and I was one of them. I was devastated. I recall thinking, ‘Why me?’ I thought my university degree made me so superior to my peers, some of whom didn’t even have a ‘proper’ degree. I am embarrassed now by my ignorance back then.

I can see now that I wasn’t actually very employable while I was working at Daimaru. I had been employable enough to secure the job on graduating, when graduate jobs were so scarce, but I was young, inexperienced and not grateful enough to appreciate the job. The package of ‘me’ – my skills and attitude – wasn’t competitive enough to keep my job in tough economic times.

I did not enjoy my job at Daimaru, and I am sure that contributed to being selected for redundancy. I had loved my old job at David Jones and was good at it. Would I have been made redundant if I had stayed there? I don’t think so. I believe it is critical to love enough of your job to retain the enthusiasm, joy and motivation to be on the path of being employable.


I have interviewed numerous people who have left their jobs after, let’s say, 10-plus years.

Personally, I love to see people stay with companies for a long time. It shows loyalty, relationship skills and consistency, plus it can also be great for learning and development.

However, a long-term tenure can also easily slip into a situation that isn’t so great for learning and development. Some of the people I have interviewed fall into this category, and they find it exceptionally hard to secure their next role. This is a good example of being employed but not employable.

The difficulty lies in their grasp on the reality of the situation – that their skills may have slipped and they may not be as employable as they first thought. It is not a comfortable realisation and is often
followed by feelings of rejection which, let’s face it, can be very hard on all of us. It can be demoralising and the perfect situation for anxiety and, even worse, depression to occur. Our self-worth and even our whole identity is tied so closely to our jobs.

If people are quick in accepting the situation, the result can be much brighter. It’s when the ego won’t let reality come into view that there are consequences. The worst part of this scenario is the effect on self-esteem and confidence.

Imagine pulling a pair of old jeans from your wardrobe that you haven’t tried on for 10 years. They fitted perfectly back then and you felt confident wearing them, but they are not quite the same now – a little tight around the waist, firmer than you recall around the thigh, not as on trend, maybe even out of date?

Maybe you haven’t kept up your fitness, or maybe that style, which was so on point back then, is now yesterday’s hero. Either way, you have some work to do!


As a final point in this introductory chapter, I want to touch on education, qualifications, degrees and the like. In my opinion they are important – I always like to hire people with a degree for my business – but I never rule out people if they don’t have one.

For my employees it’s a nice-to-have. A degree shows to me an ability to learn, to apply yourself, to think and work at something over a period of time – developing the resilience muscle, which is so needed in recruitment!

There are of course many ways to gain further education. In fact, if you’re in Australia, you live in one of the luckiest countries in the world for education, where mature-age entry is easily accessible.

Qualifications are critical and necessary for certain jobs. However, buyer beware: they are only part of the equation.

Being employable is a continual journey of lifelong learning.

Your education and learning should be ongoing. This goes hand-in-hand with being curious, asking questions and looking to understand.

Attitude and personality also come into play. I have worked with too many people who have indeed had degrees and been exceptionally well qualified and smart, but they have not been employable.
Do not rest on your laurels if you have a degree. Use it and keep leveraging, learning and developing.

Download the full first chapter of Employable here.

About the author
Roxanne Calder
Managing Director

As Founder and Managing Director at EST10, Roxanne has an all-encompassing role that includes building and growing the business, as well as actively recruiting and consulting.

After completing a Bachelor’s Degree at Monash University, Roxanne began her recruitment career with renowned recruiter Julia Ross. From there, Roxanne worked in HR and recruitment with a number of global players and boutique businesses throughout Australia, the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong for over 20 years. She has been responsible for managing large teams and projects, implementing RPO models, managing and assisting businesses to an IPO and assisting companies in setting up their recruitment teams and processes.

Following completion of her MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management, Roxanne launched EST10 in July 2010. In doing so, she hoped to combine the flexibility and high touch service levels of boutique agencies with the structure and strategy afforded to larger firms. Roxanne believes in high-touch, high-care consulting and is always on the lookout for consultants that share this vision of recruitment.