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Employability Today: Part 1 – The Evolution of Employability

The Evolution of Employability

Employabilty Today: Part 1

A profound shift in how people earn their living is occurring. People have always had to earn their living, starting from the time when proficiency with the bow and arrow and the ability to collect berries were critical. When humankind gravitated to agricultural economies, people learned to grow crops and raise livestock. Later, industry began to dominate, and workers made their way into cities for factory jobs. As the information age took hold, more people began working in offices and remotely from home offices

The Evolution of Employability

Whatever your situation, whether you are within a large organization or a small work team, you know you have to get a job done with the work force as it exists. The work force as it exists today is crowded, varied, and unevenly talented. No characteristic of today’s work force is more important than this: It is multi-generational. No characteristic is more challenging. And little in the training, practice, or world view of company or agency HR managers, corporate officers, or entrepreneurs running their own ventures has prepared them for the challenge of recruiting and managing talent from so many and so different generations. Yet, meeting this challenge and being successful at attracting and retaining needed talent are critical to an organization’s current and future success. 

The corporate ladder of yesteryears served as a way to grow talent over time and offered places to warehouse the hires who proved unable to grow into higher level positions. Since the 1990s, this age-old structure has steadily yielded to one less populous and flatter—one with lateral rather than vertical paths. It has yielded to what some call the “jungle gym” model. This change has impacted the organization’s obligation to its employees, shifting from “we’ll take care of you and your career” to “we have a responsibility to help keep you employable.” A dramatic shift! Even this is being reinterpreted as business competition evolves. 

what-to-expect-in-the-modern-workplaceThis new reality of flatter organizations implies a shared contract. No longer does an employer owe an employee a job in exchange for hard work and loyalty. No longer are employees entitled to jobs simply because they have done nothing to lose them. Employers are obligated to help employees maintain viability in the workplace as long as the relationship is mutually fruitful. To create a win/win situation, employer and employee must share the responsibility for maintaining employability. 

The overriding mission for entrepreneurs, talent managers, and HR managers is bringing into the organization Employable Talent who have the skills and awareness to succeed today and gain the trust and respect of others in tomorrow’s ever-changing environment. While organizations do not need to take responsibility for anyone’s long-term employment or career trajectory, they can help key staff exercise their talents in the short term and stay employable for the long term. 

In this new era, many employers have only a sketchy understanding of how to succeed in the talent game. Many understand that, because they are offering employment, they’re in a monopoly position. They think, “Since I’m the one offering the job, these people have to meet my requirements and specifications, or I’ll find someone else.” That can be true in some respects; certainly, more people are competing for jobs than there are jobs available. 

Much like the individuals who are applying to work for them, most employers don’t fully comprehend their responsibility when it comes to “employability” in this era of the “new employment agreement”. This responsibility entails how to keep an individual employable so that a person can continue to add value to the organization for the life of the employment agreement—generally 18, 24, or 36 months. 

In essence, your professional responsibility and role as a talent-management recruiter shifts from that of previous years. You are now charged with (1) finding Employable Talent who can succeed for the duration of their working agreements with you, and (2) supporting them in ways they might not even realize they require. Not offering such support contributes to higher, undesirable turnover, which is never in anyone’s best interest. 

Keeping Employable Talent employable requires solid knowledge of the Four Pillars – Resilience, Balance, Strategic Career Planning, and Financial Planning. At its core, Employable Talent is finding the right balance between the Four Pillars and these pillars are vital to help keep more people employable as opposed to simply employed

So what is the right blend of each of the pillars? Well, it’s not as cut and dry as you would think. Each company, CEO, or recruiter will look for different blends of the pillars depending on the type of business the company is in, the type of market it operates in, the stage of company growth and development, and current market situation. Even today, Employable Talent looks completely different than it did before 9/11.


In Part 2 of the Employability Today series we will look at how to identify Emplyable Talent in an interview to be sure you are hiring the best candidate for your campany.  It will be more clear that when progressive organizations embrace this new concept of keeping employees employable it will help to maintain profitability, the health and well-being of your Employable Talent, and elevate effective business practices in the global marketplace. 



Dr. David Miles is Chairman of the Miles LeHane Companies, Inc. He is a member of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), a member and founding chapter President of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Association of Career Professionals (ACP) and a Charter Fellow of the Institute of Career Certification International (ICC International), as the largest global non-profit certification Institute.  Author of The Four Pillars of Employable Talent and Building Block Essentials.  Follow David on Twitter @David_C_Miles 

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