Are you employable?

Written by: Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA)
Published on: 15 Aug 2017


To start off, let’s look at what employability is. Employability is defined by the Confederation of Business and Industry as “a set of attributes, skills and knowledge that all employees should possess to ensure they have the capability of being effective in the workplace – to the benefit of themselves, their employer and the wider economy.”  Put simply, employability is the knowledge, personal qualities, attitudes and behaviours you need to gain employment, remain in a role and really succeed in your work.

So how do you know whether you have the employability skills required for a particular career? Be assured that you may already have many transferable skills from previous training and experience.

The following list shows the 10 key skills identified as most desired by employers and is a really helpful guide to help you identify your existing skillset:   

  • Spoken communication – Able to express ideas clearly and confidently in speech
  • Teamwork – Work confidently within a group
  • Commercial awareness – Understand the commercial realities affecting the organisation
  • Analysing and investigating skills – Gather information systematically to establish facts and principles; able to problem solve
  • Initiative/self-motivation – Able to act on initiative, identify opportunities and be pro-active in putting forward ideas and solutions
  • Drive – Determined to get things done, make things happen and is constantly looking for better ways of doing things
  • Written communications – Able to express oneself clearly in writing
  • Planning and organising – Able to plan activities and carry them through effectively
  • Flexibility – Adapt successfully to changing situations and environments
  • Time management – Able to manage time effectively, prioritise tasks and meet deadlines

By identifying which of the above skills you already possess, you can then think of some examples of when you have demonstrated those skills in your previous roles or whilst studying. It can be useful to create a table or list of the skills above and write down an example of how you can demonstrate each skill to an employer.  

When you are applying for a job, consider what skills are likely to be most sought by a potential employer. Often you will find that they have identified the key skills that they are looking for within the job specification.

Sometimes the number of transferable skills sought by employers can seem daunting, but we have provided the following list of “impact” words which you may wish to consider using to help jog your memory and also give your examples some extra emphasis. 

  • Personal impact/confidence – Presents a strong, professional, positive image to others which inspires confidence and commands respect.
  • Lifelong learning – Continues to learn throughout life. Develops the competencies needed for current and future roles.
  • Stress tolerance – Maintains effective performance under pressure.
  • Integrity – Adheres to standards and procedures and maintains confidentiality.
  • Independence – Accepts responsibility for views and actions and able to work under own direction and initiative.
  • Professionalism – Pays attention to the quality of work; supports and empowers others.
  • Action planning – Able to decide what steps are needed to achieve particular goals and then implements them.
  • Decision making – Able to determine the best course of action; evaluates options based on logic and facts and present solutions.
  • Dependable –  Will do the job and do it well.
  • Hardworking – Takes care with work and perseveres to complete tasks. 
  • Pro-active – Makes things happen instead of waiting to be told what to do (can show initiative).
  • Co-operative –  Works well with others to get jobs done. 
  • Enthusiastic – Shows real and genuine interest in a job. 
  • Punctual – Always on time and has things ready on time. 
  • Integrity – Acts in an open and honest manner. People can trust in you and in your work.

Below is an example of how a student might demonstrate that they have improved their analytical and investigative skills (problem solving) whilst studying a legal course. 

“Whilst studying I learnt to evaluate problems across a range of areas. I understand that to effectively solve a problem it is often best to analyse it and break it down into its key issues. You can then consider the most effective and professional approach to a solution. My studies have helped me develop excellent analytical and critical thinking skills. I appreciate that legal work often requires a logical and methodical approach.”

If you want to identify that you have drive, then you will need to explain that you are determined to complete tasks, are good at making things happen and that you look for better ways of doing things. If you were asked when you faced a challenging situation or made a significant achievement, what would you say? Your response does not have to be something you did in a professional context; it could be an achievement gained through sporting or learning.

You can then use your examples to highlight within your CV and covering letter which of these skills you already possess and how they have helped you to succeed in your previous roles.  This is also a useful exercise to prepare for an interview. Your examples will show recruiters that you will be able to hit the ground running in your new position.

Ongoing training 

Lifelong learning can be an employable skill in itself. If you have a willingness to build on existing skills and develop new ones, this will show employers that you have enthusiasm and motivation.

If you have a good range of employability skills, it shows employers that you will be able to add value to their organisation. Most importantly try to take a positive approach towards your work. Be ready to take part and foster the drive to make things happen and you will always be employable.

Please email ILSPA at if you would like help with tailoring your CV for a Legal Secretary role. We will also provide you with guidance to secure employment, including all the advice you need to reach the interview stage.

The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs is a professional body who are dedicated to your career every step of the way. Whether you would like to become a Legal Secretary or you would like to advance your Legal Secretary career, they are there to support you through your journey.  For more information visit