Big Ideas

Employability: Theory versus Reality

Employability is defined as the capacity to gain and retain formal employment, or find new employment if necessary. Reasons for unemployment are often attributed to economic factors, but psychological factors associated with employability also contribute to the problem. Consequently, industrial-organizational psychologists should be uniquely suited to contribute to policy solutions for enhancing employability. This review begins by surveying the most common research approach to employability—the study of career success—which psychologists believe is determined by cognitive abilities, personality, and educational achievement. Next, we review the literature concerning what employers actually want. This section highlights the importance of social skills (being rewarding to deal with) as a key determinant of employability. We conclude by proposing a model for understanding the psychological determinants of employability and for bridging the gap between what psychologists prescribe and what employers want.

Hogan, R., Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Kaiser, R. B. (2012). Employability and career success: Bridging the gap between theory and reality. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 6, 3-16.

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