In this blog entry I discuss the term Employability with Marina Meehan who has been working in leadership roles in Human Resources both here and the UK for the past 20 years and who is currently HR and Corporate Social Responsibility Director for Fujitsu. We discussed how current HR professionals interpret this and how students can make themselves more employable as they progress through study, internships and eventual employment.


As a HR professional how do you define employability or what does it mean for you?

It’s a great question. Employability is such a wide ranging description and is somewhat subjective, depending on the role you have on offer and the team that will work around the individual.

The starting point for me as a HR professional in making an assessment as to whether someone is employable; is to consider the organisation they are hoping to work for. They must understand what makes that organisation tick. What the culture is like and what is expected from the people. It may not always be about the technical skills to do the job; it can be about “fitting in” and the ability to contribute to the companies objectives as a team member.

So it’s important that candidates have done their research and come prepared to talk about employability in that organisation from the get-go. What they can do for the company; not what the company can do for them.

As we see lots of students at the service; do you think employability means different things depending on the level of manager or sector or industry that one is interested in?

Yes I think it does. People don’t realise they have to adapt and fit into a company, it’s not one size fits all. The starting point as to be getting under the skin of the organisation you want to join and actually visualising yourself on the role. Looking at the world through the employing manager lens and also offering up what they need from the organisation as a potential employee to be successful.

For you… why is employability so important or relevant nowadays?

It’s an employer’s market. We can go out and cast our net globally. It makes a financial difference to hire someone who can hit the ground running and wears their employability like a new suit. It saves time and effort on the induction process, to get someone who knows what the company needs and they actively “self-inform”.

What do you think are the most relevant or important employability skills today given that you have worked in many different sectors and industries?

  • Cop on.
  • Knowledge as to the role and the company they are applying for.
  • A good CV.
  • The ability to account for their life journey in a succinct and articulate manner.
  • Excellent work standards and the ability to deliver results from day one.

Would you say any competencies or behaviours are over rated or not as important as others?

Some companies I have worked for in the past have laid great emphasis on innovation for example and recruited on that basis. However when the candidate gets in and works in the place, they find very little opportunity to actually apply it. So there needs be a realistic assessment of what behaviour is required and then the selection process has a chance of succeeding. For me what is important is being self-informed, having initiative, personal work standards, ultimately the ability to know what needs to be done.

What advice would you have for students setting out on their career journey today in terms of employability?

Preparation. I managed some graduate recruitment recently and was shocked – I asked the following questions, which were not a real stretch of the imagination…

  • What do you know about the company?
  • What do you imagine you will be doing in your first 6 months?
  • Where do you see yourself in 2 years’ time?
  • How do you like to be managed?

It was obvious very quickly that they had not taken time to even read the website which can be the easiest and most basic thing you do before attending an interview for a job or opportunity.

Go into the company you want to work for – sit in reception. Listen to what is going on. Imagine yourself being part of the company. Emote the experience and believe the job is for you.

Btw, I think selection is a two way street. Candidates, once they get near to the winning post, should ask questions and be comfortable that the choice they make is informed and there is an alignment with what the role actually requires them to do.


It is clear from the discussion that “employability” is something that every student must be prepared to let interviewers see, that potential employers can tell that this person has initiative, can demonstrate the competencies required for that role and can follow through with tasks.

If you wish to discuss your own career pathway with a consultant at the service don’t hesitate to come and talk with us. To book an appointment click here!


Blog developed by Career Consultant Linda Ryan currently responsible for career development for the School History & Humanities, School Nursing & Midwifery, Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies.

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