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 exactly is Employability and why are employability skills so important?

Employability has to do with the extent to which you are (and remain) employable on the labour market.
Employability refers to your ability to gain initial employment, maintain employment, and obtain new employment if required. In simple terms, employability is about being capable of getting and keeping fulfilling work. 

What you need for that is defined as: 

  • The development of a personal and professional profile that, in addition to knowledge about yourself, your academic knowledge and skills, is based on practical experience and cross-curricular (core) skills; 
  • Awareness and ownership of your own personal and professional development; 
  • An active and inquisitive attitude towards the labour market; 
  • Knowledge of your own possibilities on the labour market and the career skills to move within that labour market.

Students with the above characteristics are better able: 

  • Make the transition to the labour market, and
  • Remain employable in a dynamic labour market
  • In a (career) job that fits their personal values, preferences and development.

Employability skills
Employability skills are core skills 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
  • 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