For more information on career development and how you can evaluate your marketable skills, please visit the University Career Center.
According to the THECB, "By 2030, all graduates from Texas public institution of higher education will have completed programs with identified marketable skills. The marketable skills goal emphasizes the value of higher education in the workforce. Students need to be aware of the marketable skills embedded in their academic programs, and institutions must make certain that students graduate with marketable skills. This goal charges two - and four-year public institutions in Texas with documenting, updating, and communicating the skills students acquire in their programs."
Marketable skills include both hard and soft skills and are often referred to as employability skills or transferable skills. Marketable skills are intended to help students market themselves to employers.
Soft skills are a cluster of productive personality traits such as people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes, and social and emotional intelligence that enable people to work well with others, navigate their environment, perform well, and achieve their goals. Soft skills are complemented with hard skills. Soft skills are similar to emotions or insights that allow people to "read" others. These are much harder to learn and are also much harder to measure and evaluate.
To learn more about soft skills, click here.
Hard skills are skills you gain through education, training programs, certifications, and on-the-job training. These are typically quantifiable skills that can be easily defined and evaluated. Hard skills are part of the skill set required for a job and include the expertise necessary for an individual to be successful in a particular career. They are typically detailed in job postings and job descriptions.
To learn more about hard skills, click here.
Strategies for Job Seekers and Workers
The best way to empower yourself is to continuously set goals and develop and build your toolbox of skills, talents, interests, and experiences. Whether this means becoming bilingual or multilingual in a diverse job market or improving a challenging skill, the unique intersection of various skills will enhance career success and personal growth. The key is to keep developing marketable skills and personalizing your brand.
- Identify what skills would bring you an advantage. This refers not only to hard skills (technical skills), but also to soft skills (e.g. communication and time management). Explore what skills are valued in your desired field, both today and in the future. Network with other professionals in higher level positions about what skills would be beneficial to you, your organization, as well as career.
- Conduct an honest self-assessment of your current skills. Look critically at your strengths and weaknesses. Identify the gap in relation to your skills that require development.
- Decide whether to focus on solidifying your strengths or improving your weaknesses. Look clearly at a weakness that could potentially limit your career and find ways to resolve that weakness.
- Dedicate the time and commitment to develop your skills. There are plenty of resources that can help you develop new skills or solidify existing ones, from online education courses to conferences and webinars. Start from your core skills and development adjacent ones.
- Showcase your newly-developed skill set. This applied to both pursuing new opportunities as well as building and maintaining
your personal brand. For those early in their careers, this helps to establish an
effective professional online presence with a work portfolio and positive testimonials
Additional sources on marketable skills:
- Donohoe, N., Jonas, Peter M., Donohoe, Kathleen, & McGrath, Mary Ann. (2015). Meeting Society's Needs: Foresight in Creating Relevant Academic Programs with Marketable Skills, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.
- Middleton, Diana. (2004). Is The Focus Too Fine? B-schools are narrowing down their core curriculums in favor of programs that develop marketable skills. Business Week, (3904), 92.
- Hayes, Kevin. (2013). Teaching Marketable Skills with 21st-Century Materials. Techniques: Connecting Education and Careers (J3), 88(2), 52-55.
- Heggen, S., & Myers, C. (2018). Hiring millennial students as software engineers: A study in developing self-confidence and marketable skills. Proceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering, 32-39.
Examples of soft skills:
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Critical Thinking
- Interpersonal Skills
- Work Ethic
Examples of hard skills:
- Computer Programming
- Financial Analysis
- Legal Skills
- Project Management
- Web Design