Lesson 6 - Other Employability Skills

Teacher with student

Learning Goal: To examine employability skills related to work ethic and to identify key characteristics that are important for success in the information age workplace.


Three primary components of work ethic have been identified as interpersonal skills, initiative, and dependability. This lesson will focus on specific employability skills and personal characteristics which are drawn from all three work ethic components. Some of these are very practical like learning to prepare a resume. Others are more difficult to describe or develop like not being overly shy, looking people in the eye when talking with them, and proper ways to greet someone you meet. Learning about these types of skills and practicing them are certain to enhance your ability to seek, secure, and be successful on the job!

Think for a moment about the steps necessary when you start a new job; filling out an application, going for your first interview, and spending your first day on the job. This will have already happened for some people, but for others it is on the horizon. Think about your answers to the following questions: How do you decide where you would like to work? When, where, and how should you pick up the application? Do you fill it out there or should you take it with you? How do you schedule your first interview? What was expected of you at the interview? What types of skills are employers looking for? How should you present yourself? What is the first day of work like? What should you do if the job is not what you expected? How do interpersonal skills, initiative, and dependability skills influence success in the work you do now or the work you will do in the future?

Many employers have been asked over the years to list the most important skills and characteristics they look for when hiring new employees. Among the more common answers are good communication skills, positive attitude, and the ability to be dependable, punctual, and responsible. Personal characteristics which are important include dressing properly, being polite, and displaying self-confidence.

Assignment 1:

Certain skills are important for filling out applications, interviewing for jobs, and handling yourself on the job. Read the bulleted points and think of how each of these relate to your own practices.

  • Dress appropriately when applying, interviewing, and arriving for work.
  • Apply for jobs alone.
  • Write down pertinent information regarding your personal and work-related references, the types of job skills you possess, and your personal information (i.e. SS#) to have ready when applying for a job.
  • Seek out someone to help you practice interviewing skills such as handshakes, eye contact, manners, and verbally expressing yourself.

Consider the following scenarios. What actions are helpful and which ones could have been done better? Click on the links to compare your responses with those that are provided.

Scenario 1

John was driving two friends home from school when he remembered that he wanted to fill out an application at the Builda Bigger Burger restaurant. He had seen a want ad posted in the front window. Since the restaurant looked busy, John's friends came inside with him to get a sandwich while he asked for an application. A couple of their friends showed up and they all got to laughing and goofing around. Finally, the counter was clear, so John asked for an application and he left with his friends.

Scenario 2

Kim has arrived for her first job interview wondering why she scheduled her appointment so close to the time for her dental appointment. The work she had done at the dentist took longer than expected and her mouth is so numb from the anesthesia that her speech is slurred and she keeps accidentally biting her tongue. Now she is nervous, thinking about what will happen during the interview. She is already five minutes late and is considering either calling to reschedule the appointment or just not showing up at all. Perhaps she can call tomorrow and say she had the appointment written down incorrectly on her calendar. She decides to go ahead to the interview anyway and arrives ten minutes late.

Scenario 3

Tyler is meeting the Vice-President for Operations of the company for the first time. He is somewhat nervous about meeting her because he knows she is a very influential person in the company. The franchise has several restaurants in it and Tyler hopes to someday become the manager of one of them. In particular, he has his eye on one that is planned for the community near his home. He now has to travel about thirty minutes each way to reach the restaurant where he works right now.

As the V.P. arrives and enters the building, Tyler has just come from the kitchen. His hands are damp because the paper towel dispenser was empty and is on his way to get another roll from the storage room. His manager stops him and introduces the V.P. She reaches her hand out to greet him with a handshake.

Assignment 2:

One of the key elements in successfully seeking employment is preparation of an effective resume. This document can take a variety of forms, but one of the most common types is the one page resume which summarizes personal information, education, work experience, and other relevant facts.

If you do not have a single page resume, begin preparing one now. If you already have one, bring it in and review it for potential improvements. Some suggestions for preparing this document can be found at the Job Search Section of the Online Writing Lab. This website has numerous other resources to assist you in preparing letters and other documents that might assist you in finding a job.

Assignment 3:

Michael was hired to answer phones and take messages in a small business for the summer. How could you improve the following conversation?

"Aldrich and Sons."
"Is Mr. Aldrich in?"
"No, but you can leave a message."
"Fine, please tell him to call Mr. Rowden."
"Mr. Rowden, R-O-W-D-E-N."

Write out an alternative to this conversation that improves the responses Michael makes to the caller. Then compare your version to the conversation described here.