Employability Skills Checklist – What Employers Say Are Fundamental Skills Required for Job Success

by Cindy Leggott

Job searching in the current labour market is nothing short of tough and frustrating.  As the lead Facilitator in the Youth Employment Readiness Program, many participants ask the question “How do I know what an employer wants from me?” Here is a summary of research done by the Conference Board of Canada regarding the top 5 skills employers say are the most essential skills employees need in order to gain and maintain employment.


  1. Communicate – It is important to remember effective workplace communication does not just mean how well you speak. According to this research, being able to effectively communicate employees need to:
  • Able to read and understand information that is given
  • Speak and write in ways that co-workers can understand
  • Listen well and ask questions for clarification
  • Share information where appropriate


  1. Manage Information Responsibly – Employers suggest that managing information can take a combination of professional and personal focus. After all, people are a package deal with professional and personal roles they play every day. Employers suggest employees show strong skill when can balance their life roles and:
  • Contribute to your team by sharing information and expertise where appropriate
  • Learn workplace technologies that assist in gathering and organizing information
  • Set goals and priorities in a way that provides you with a work-life balance
  • Plan and manage your time to get daily tasks completed


  1. Think and Solve Problems – This may be difficult when you first start a new position but don’t panic. Within the first 3 months of a new job, you will have witnessed problem-solving in action and have a better “feel” for problem-solving methods that will work in your particular job role.  Employers suggest the most important skills for an employee to be able to use are:
  • Assess situations and identify potential problems
  • Identify root causes of problems and be prepared to work through potential solutions
  • Be ok with conflict because sometimes conflict can lead to creative solutions that work


  1. Demonstrate A Positive Attitude – Over my professional career, I have heard so many employers say “If an employee has a positive attitude I can train them to do a job. I can’t train attitude.  Here is a condensed list of what employer’s told Employability 2000+ shows a positive attitude:
  • Feel good about yourself and be confident
  • Handle your job with honesty, integrity and professional and personal ethics
  • Take care of your personal health
  • Recognize your own efforts as well as the efforts of co-workers
  • Show appropriate initiative and effort


  1. Work with Others – Teamwork can be rewarding but it also can be challenging. Be assured that both sides of teamwork are normal.  Skill around being an effective team member suggests you can:
  • Be Flexible
  • Work within a group
  • Show interest, motivation and effort
  • Recognize and respect the diversity and the different perspectives of each individual team member
  • Provide feedback in a considerate, constructive manner


Sometimes when we are working at demonstrating skills it can feel awkward or give us a nervous feeling.  However, if we can think ahead of time of a mental picture of how we could display these skills the skills and your personal confidence to do them effectively will become more natural with practice.  In the Youth Employment Readiness Program participants often struggle with what these essential skills look like.  If this sounds like you here is a suggested activity you might try:


Activity Idea

As you read and reflect on how you can demonstrate these essential skills to employers, I encourage you to think about a time you have been working with others.  This could be at work, volunteering or as a member of a sports team.  What were the people you were with doing or saying that made you feel valued or an important part of the team?  Chances are if you have had experiences feeling valued you have seen some of these essential skills in action and can apply them to employment success.


Please note the information in this article is adapted from the websites of the Conference Board of Canada. The complete article can be found at https://www.conferenceboard.ca/spse/employability-skills.aspx


If you need support or guidance to improve your Employability Skills please contact Regina Work Preparation Centre.  Our staff and programming options may be just what you need to start you on an employment journey that works for you.


Free will and First impressions

When I was first told I would be doing my practicum placement (internship) at Regina Work Prep, I had never heard of the place. I was filled with apprehension at the idea of working at a place that I knew nothing about. My first google search didn’t tell me much and I arrived for my interview feeling… well… grumpy. Even though people say that “an interview is for both parties to make a decision”, we all know the feeling that an interview brings and it’s not particularly one of free will.

Everything about my attitude changed after my first visit to the office. I was greeted with a smile and had a chance to sit down and get my bearings before my interview. My interview was with Ashley (Executive Director) and Kathy (Program Manager) and their enthusiasm for the work that their team does make me want to jump on board immediately. I could tell that they cared about their clients, employees, community, and me; even though they didn’t know me yet. My overall first impression of Work Prep was that it was a place of positivity and teamwork. Needless to say, I decided to come back.

As I went through my practicum, we talked a lot about first impressions of our office space. The organizational self-awareness that the Work Prep team strives to have is what makes them the kind of place that people want to come back to. While services are open to the public, some clients are sent to Work Prep by other means. Often, the free will of the potential client’s situation is taken away. The team strives to give free will back to their clients at every opportunity. Without collaboration and the sharing of ideas, no plan is moved forward. This level of respect is offered as a first impression and remains consistent over the course of engaging in services.

To engage with people so that they want to come back to a sometimes-mandated service requires specific skills that the Work Prep team is quick to share. This is not just a place to find a job, it’s a place to find opportunities that will enhance your employability for years to come. The options are almost endless when it comes to deciding what services will look like for you. You will be asked to ask yourself what it is that you need to reach your goals.

Looking for a job is hard and looking for a job on your own is even harder. At Work Prep, clients will find allies who will stand by them, regardless of how long the process takes. The method is never to drag someone through plans made by a so-called “expert” but rather to come alongside each other and exchange ideas and knowledge. The staff are experienced on both a professional and personal level, many of them having come full circle from being previous clients of Work Prep themselves! They understand the struggle and work to understand each individual client’s unique position and goals.

As a practicum student, I got to see Work Prep through many different lenses. I had a chance to be an outsider with ideas fresh out of school, I was looking for a paying job myself and thus got the help of the best team around, and I was treated as an equal team member on projects and in meetings. I also spent a lot of time out in the community, networking with other agencies. I learned about their services, and they also provided insight as to how they see their work connecting with Regina Work Prep. It was beyond interesting to see the different ways that we can work together to move ourselves forward.  I can truly say that from every angle, Work Prep has a great team who are just waiting to share their knowledge and support. My life has been forever changed by their connections and teachings. I hope that yours can be too.

By Laura, Internship Student, UofR