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Leiden University Career Zone

LU Career Zone Develop your skills

Employability Skills

Problem solving skills, communication, teamwork, adaptability, leadership, entrepreneurship, self-reflection, influence...

These and other skills are also called employability skills, 21st-century skills or transferable skills.
But what is employability and why are employability skills so important?

The aim of Leiden University is not only to provide you with a good, solid university education, but also to prepare you as well as possible for the job market and thus to contribute to the development of your employability. This will make it easier for you to make the transition to the labour market, to remain employable in a dynamic labour market in a (career) job that suits your own personal values, preferences and development.

Employable' students have developed themselves in the following way. They:

  • master discipline-specific knowledge and skills (specific to your programme) 
  • master transferable skills (e.g. problem-solving ability, critical thinking, cooperation, adaptability, intercultural and communicative skills, self-management, digital skills)
  • can reflect on their own profile and their development (what do I find important, interesting, what can I do well, what can I do with my knowledge and skills on the labour market?)
  • have practical experience (e.g. internships, practical assignments, relevant secondary jobs and voluntary work)
  • orient themselves at the right moment towards the labour market (researching the labour market by means of presentations by guest speakers and alumni from the professional field, informative (network) discussions, company visits, career events, etc.)

Employability skills
Employability skills are core skills (cross-curricular/transferable) that you need in every job. They are skills demanded by employers and are at least as important as job-specific or technical skills. The more you possess these skills, the more employable you are, the greater your chances of getting a job and advancement opportunities.
It is therefore important to develop these skills during your studies, both within the curriculum and beyond. In order to be well prepared to enter the job market, it is advisable to determine to what extent you possess these skills and which ones you want to develop further.

Important and much sought-after employability skills include

  • Critical thinking / problem solving skills
  • Communication skills (oral/written/presentation)
  • Working together in a team 
  • Social and intercultural skills
  • Leadership
  • Professional attitude/work ethics
  • Adaptability / Resilience
  • Digital skills 

In the present and post COVID-19 era, the following skills will become particularly important:

  • Empathy
  • Adaptability / Resilience
  • Cultural awareness
  • Digital skills

Competence instrument VSNU
In this section you will find a selection of these skills/competencies in more detail. These come from the Competence Instrument Dutch Universities of the VSNU-NOA. In this instrument 32 competences are described, as well as competence oriented questions and development tips. The complete overview can be found here. For each skill you will find additional information and online courses. 
You can also take the competency test in Know yourself. There we look at a large number of these employability skills.

LU Career Zone Skills

Competences Instrument Dutch Universities (VSNU):


LU Career Zone Skills

Application skills

See Application skills

OECD skills

Skill needs per country

Read more