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Today’s employers are checking for a special set of skills you may have never heard of. Employability skills, also known as soft skills, are criteria public companies use to evaluate candidates for a wide range of job functions.

In Washington, DC government jobs make up about 38% of the city’s employment. Understanding the core skills they’re looking for can give you an edge over other applicants.  But first:

What Are Employability Skills?

Employability skills are sometimes called foundational skills, job-readiness skills, or soft skills. All in all, they are general personality traits needed in any job function.

These skills help you work in team settings, learn on the job, and apply knowledge to solve problems. They are transferable, professional skills that enable you to be successful in any industry.

There are Four Types of Employability Skills

Personal Skills

The internal qualities you bring to the job. Qualities like integrity, initiative, dependability and reliability, adaptability, professionalism.

People Skills

The way you relate to other people. Examples of people skills include teamwork, communication, respect.

Applied Knowledge

things you learn in school that can be applied to the workplace. These include: reading, writing, mathematics, science, technology, critical thinking.

Workplace Skills

Skills you learn in the workplace. They include: planning & organizing, problem solving, decision making, business fundamentals, customer focus.

Putting Employability Skills To Work

It’s easy to focus on your weaknesses, but the most successful people focus on leveraging their strengths. A clear understanding of your strengths will help you contribute more effectively.

At this point you’ve probably scanned the above list. You may have started to gravitate towards skills you already have. If not, go back and pick three to four skills where you excel.

Now that you’ve identified your skills, you can add them to your LinkedIn profile, your online portfolio, or your cover letter.

Job searching? Add these skills to your resume. Already on the job? Then demonstrate your capabilities to your team.

Knowing employers are looking for these specific skills make it easier to incorporate them online or in person.

How Employability Skills Are Used In Federal & DC Government Careers

DC Government employees, for example, use a list of these skills to guide their employees towards success. Every employee in the District of Columbia has an IDP, or Individual Development Plan. This document outlines competencies necessary for success. Here’s a list:


Customer Service


Flexibility & Adaptability




Goal Attainment

Job Knowledge & Business Acumen


Operational & Strategic Planning

Management of Others

Use of Technology


Risk Management

Time & Process Management

Problem Solving, Analytical Skills & Reasoning


Here’s an example of how to use these in your resume or during an interview: “I demonstrate dependability and reliability by having regular and punctual attendance.” “My professionalism is shown through maintaining a positive attitude.”

As a result, the D.C. government, as well as the federal government, are searching for these terms when reviewing applications and during interviews. So if you’re looking to land a D.C. government job, you will want to choose a handful of these and add them to your resume.

As you can see, having a good understanding of your employability skills is one of the best ways to communicate your value to employers. The best part is all of these skills– if you don’t already have them– are learnable.