Employability refers to possessing a set of core skill groups that are transferable from job-to-job and from industry-to-industry.

Foundation Skills

Foundation skills are basic academic and behavioral characteristics from which to build competencies. The three SCANS foundation skill categories were identified as Basic Literacy Skills, Thinking Skills, and Personal Qualities.


Competencies are a combination of skills, abilities, and knowledge needed to accomplish a specific task; they are more closely related to what people actually do at work. The five SCANS competencies were identified as Resources, Information, Interpersonal, Systems, and Technology.


An organized economic activity connected with production, manufacture, and/or construction of a particular product/service or range of products/services. Examples are healthcare, transportation, careers, and education industries. Refer to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career Guide to Industries for more information. URL:


An occupation that requires extensive education or specialized training to practice in the profession. This is in contrast to a trade, which is usually manual, mechanical or agricultural in nature, and does not require extensive education or specialized training to perform tasks in the trade.


A specific job by which someone earns a living; usually characterized by a series of activities or tasks that are required to perform the job. Refer to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook for more information. URL:


U.S. Department of Labor established a Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS)


A job or occupation regarded as a long-term or lifelong activity or pursuit.

Career Planning

A method of doing something that is worked out in detail before any career activity is actually begun. The planning process usually includes the following steps: Self-Assessment, identifying and exploring career options; setting goals and planning action steps to achieve those goals; taking action in accordance with the career plan (e.g., write a resume).

Career Development

The process of identifying and implementing career activities that cause change for the purpose of growth. Career development activities are usually derived from the career planning process (e.g., self-assessment). The career development process breaks down each of the planning steps into more detail (e.g., what kind of self-assessment should be conducted; how are the results interpreted; how are the results applied to exploring career options; etc.)

Career Management

Handling different aspects of a career activity successfully, usually in the form of meeting pre-established activity objectives. Career management usually refers to maintenance of all aspects of the Career planning and development processes. For example, in Career planning, a goal is identified to target a certain industry and plan a course of action to research jobs and write resumes to apply for those jobs. Career development would take the resume writing action step one further on learning how to write different kinds of resumes for different purposes to meet different objectives. Career management would include maintaining the currency and accuracy of the resume over time.

Career Counseling

Counselors usually ask the question "why." For example "why do you want to ride a bicycle?

From a careers perspective, they may ask "why do you want to work in the healthcare industry?" Counselors are usually involved with career assessment and psychological aspects of one's career, which usually requires extensive education or specialized training to practice.

Career Coaching

Coaches usually ask the question "how." For example, once you have decided that you want to ride a bicycle, a coach will put your butt on the seat and coach you through the process of how to pedal and balance, and provide encouragement as you cycle down your chosen path.

From a careers perspective, once an individual decides he/she wants to pursue a career in healthcare, the coach will show the individual how to organize his/her activities in order to explore options and find jobs within that industry, providing encouragement along the way.

Entry-level Workers

Entry-level workers are generally characterized as having one year or less of work experience, and/or newly graduated from high school or college. Workers in this category must look at different jobs as opportunities to apply their existing skills, learn new ones, and assess how entry-level jobs will propel them forward into more experienced levels of expertise. Personal qualities are most important for entry-level workers. Personal qualities include such attributes as a self-starter, an employee who values their own worth as well as the work they do and employee honesty.

Entry level jobs can usually be found in the construction, manufacturing, retail service, food service, and administrative services where basic writing, speaking and thinking skills are required. Become competitive by developing transferable skills through active participation in campus organizations, student government, volunteerism, and internship or co-op programs. To establish a favorable reputation, entry-level workers should convey they are reliable, dependable and hard working. Demonstrating good work habits, along with showing a positive attitude, also demonstrates a reputation as a responsible worker.

Workers in a Job or Career Transition

Workers in a job or career transition are generally characterized as workers responding to a career-changing situation. These situations might include a job loss due to corporate downsizing; returning to work after an extended absence from the workforce; leaving the military and entering the civilian job market; etc. Such transitions involve a series of integrated steps to get back on their feet including to include transferable skills assessment, stress and time management, and re-education.

Experienced Workers

Experienced workers are generally characterized as having a significant number of years of work experience, and/or are 40 years of age or older. The current demographic classification for this category of workers is called "Baby Boomers," or those who were born between the years 1945 and 1960. These experienced workers face a different set of challenges than their entry-level, younger counterparts. These include lacking experience with newer technology, having outdated education, and competition with younger, cheaper workers.

Baby Boomers represent the largest segment of the skilled labor force for at least the next 20 years. The next generation-Generation X-is numerically smaller. The X'ers will then be supplemented by the somewhat larger "Generation Y"-the baby boomers' children. Older workers in the Baby Boomer generation provide the best resource for the small, medium business owner in the years to come because they supply expert manpower on a full-time, part-time or contract basis in a variety of fields.

A current trend among Baby Boomers is to start their own businesses, pursuing hobbies and even returning to school. Baby Boomers are also interested in contractual or project work -- where they are brought in temporarily to complete a specific task. Mid-career or older workers should emphasize the positive attributes of their age and experience.

Stage in Work

Entry-level Worker

Having one year or less of work experience, in their late teens or early 20's, and/or newly graduated from high school or college

Typical Job Function and/or Career Situation

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail service
  • Food service
  • Administration

Skills Focus

  • Knowing how to learn and apply what is learned
  • Self-starter
  • Writing skills
  • Listening skills
  • Speaking skills
  • Values own work as well as the work of others
  • Thinking skills
  • Integrity


  • Establish self as a responsible worker
  • Establish self as a productive worker

Stage in Work

Worker in a Job or Career Transition

Generally characterized as workers responding to a career-changing situation

Typical Job Function and/or Career Situation

  • Mental or physical rehabilitation
  • Immigration into a new country
  • Job loss
  • Career change
  • Return to work after an extended absence from the workforce
  • Military to civilian job transition

Skills Focus

  • Transferable skills assessment
  • Vocational re-education
  • Time management skills
  • Stress management skills
  • Professional development pursuits


  • Career re-assessment to identify transferable skills and new career options
  • Re-education
  • Managing stress
  • Managing self-esteem
  • Managing financial resources

Stage in Work

Experienced Worker (also known as Baby Boomers)

Generally characterized as having a significant number of years of work experience, and/or are 40 years of age or older. The current demographic classification for this category of workers is called "Baby Boomers," or those who were born between the years 1942 and 1962.

Typical Job Function and/or Career Situation

  • Mid-to senior-level corporate manager, supervisor, developer, program manager, etc. in large, medium and small businesses
  • Consultant
  • Contractor
  • Small business owner

Skills Focus

  • Accumulated experience, maturity, judgment, perspective, increasing responsibility, consistent achievement
  • Ability to make a contribution immediately (as opposed to a younger job seeker's untested potential)
  • Willingness to work on short-cycle, project-oriented basis
  • Flexibility to adapt to new ideas
  • Training in and familiarity with relevant computer software and other technology


  • Outdated education
  • Lack of experience with new technology
  • Close to perceived retirement age
  • Competition with younger workers
  • Replacement of expensive older workers with cheaper younger workers