Counselling and career development

Your graduateness and employability

We encourage you to plan your future today by thinking differently about how you will overcome challenges and find, create or use resources to create your community of practice to think and act like the professional you want to be. We live with uncertainty, and we have to make decisions today and take action or the future will be even more uncertain. We also make decisions to be future-ready. The Institute for the Future has identified several disruptors (drivers for change) that affect our work, such as needing to work past 65 to ensure resources; the rise of smart technology; the internet; and organisations functioning outside traditional organisational boundaries, enabled by social technologies. As you are preparing yourself for opportunities, you need to keep in mind that uncertainty is everywhere and changes do and will happen. You will be presented with opportunities as well as challenges.

Are you ready to:

  • Find and maintain employment continuously?
  • Be a lifelong learner and learn a broad range of skills?
  • Believe in yourself and what you can contribute?
  • Reflect on what you are doing, as well as how you are doing it?

What does employability mean?

Employability refers to your ability to gain initial employment, maintain employment, and obtain new employment if required. In simple terms, employability is about being capable of getting and keeping fulfilling work. Your employability depends on:

  • your knowledge (what you know),
  • skills (what you do with what you know),
  • attitudes (how you approach things)
  • the way you use your knowledge and skills and present them to employers, and
  • the context (e.g. personal circumstances and labour market environment) within which you seek work.

Important aspects of employability for your career

  • Career ownership - only you are responsible for your career development and management (no one else can do it for you).
  • Employers and clients expect continuous (life-long) learning and development of skills,
  • Security lies in employability (that is, your ability to obtain and maintain employment) rather than in employment (that is, a specific job).

Employability is about preparing yourself for opportunities - how ready are you to recognise and grab opportunities when these come along? Download the Prepare for opportunities brochure and Prepare for opportunities workshop handout to learn more about this.

Beyond employability: digital career literacy

Digital career literacy enables you to develop your career through digital and online resources. This includes establishing your "brand", being able to select and filter relevant information online, and connecting with others. Read more about digital career literacy and how you can develop the competencies needed to work in a rapidly changing, complex environment.

Employability checklist

Complete the employability checklist below to check which activities you still need to attend to:

Tick when completed

Discover yourself

assessed what kind of work you are interested in
assessed your personal characteristics
assessed your skills
assessed your values
identified your educational qualifications (knowledge)
assessed your work and other experience

Checked what employers are looking for

experience and education
personal characteristics
physical appearance
work history


identified sources of job information
collected job information
assessed job information

Organise yourself

planned your job search
collected all the required documentation
compiled a career portfolio
developed a routine
have a job search folder

Made contact

drafted cover letters
drafted CVs
sent out cover letters and CVs
filled in application forms
submitted application forms

Prepare for interviews

made sure you know how to get there in good time
made sure that your appearance is neat
made sure that you have all the required documentation
prepared the answers to possible interview questions
prepared questions that you want to ask in the interview

During the interview

you were on time
you were confident and answered questions directly
you showed good body language
you kept your answers short and to the point
you dealt openly and honestly with difficult questions

Adapted from: Umsobomvu Youth Fund. 2003. Finding work: a guide for young people.

Further resources

Enhance your employability (PDF) This conversation sheet will help you to reflect on the aspects related to enhancing your employability.
Graduateness I (MP3)
Graduateness II (MP3)
As a Unisa graduate, you have unique qualities such as being independent, resilient, responsible, and caring citizens, and knowledge of how to apply your discipline-specific knowledge to solve real-life problems. Listen to these conversations about becoming a graduate and what you can start doing to prepare yourself for opportunities.
CareersSA CareersSA is a publication aimed at providing information to students about the world of work. This includes information about possible employers as well as job-searching, for example, interview skills.

Last modified: 2023/08/07