Link between self-efficacy and employability

Link between self-efficacy and employability

Self-efficacy has been defined as one's belief in their ability to execute behaviours necessary to produce specific performance attainments. This core ...

Self-efficacy has been defined as one's belief in their ability to execute behaviours necessary to produce specific performance attainments. This core belief is the foundation of human motivation, performance accomplishments, and emotional well-being. It influences all manner of experience, including the goals for which people strive, the amount of energy expended toward goal achievement, and the likelihood of attaining particular levels of behavioural performance. Those with a strong sense of self-efficacy perceive difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered, while those with lower self-efficacy view the same tasks as threats that need to be avoided.

It is important to note that self-efficacy is distinct from the colloquial term "confidence", which refers to the strength of belief, but not necessarily what that belief pertains to. For instance, an individual can be confident that they will fail at an endeavour. On the other hand, perceived self-efficacy refers to one's agentive capabilities through which one can attain a certain level of achievement in a specific task.

The importance of self-efficacy in a workplace environment is now being recognised widely. Research indicates that employees with a higher level of self-efficacy tend to succeed more than their counterparts in organisations. This is because efficacy beliefs tend to impact goals that employees choose, the investment in their endeavour to attain them, and ways of perseverance in the face of difficulties. Those with a lower level of self-efficacy may doubt their capabilities in the face of obstacles and give up prematurely, or settle for poorer solutions. On the other hand, those with a higher level of self-efficacy would redouble their efforts to master these challenges, which would lead to better outcomes.

It thus becomes imperative for an individual to have a higher level of self-efficacy in order to be perceived as an employable candidate by recruiters. A person's level of self-efficacy can be developed in various ways. To begin with, the individual needs to acquire a 'growth mind-set', a concept defined by Dr. Carol Dweck. It refers to an understanding or realisation that one's abilities, intelligence and talents can be developed with practice. This is in contrast to the 'fixed mind-set' wherein the individual believes that their abilities have been fixed from birth. For example, someone with a fixed mind-set may believe that they are bad at maths, so they will fail to comprehenda balance sheet. Conversely, someone with a growth mind-set will believe that reading balance sheets may be difficult, but with effort, they can ace it. There is evidently a strong correlation between an individual having a growth mind-set and a high level of self-efficacy.

Once an individual succeeds at developing a growth mind-set,educational institutions can also develop their students' self-efficacy through Mastery experiences – where the individual attempts a difficult task and succeeds through perseverance. They can progressively give students difficult projects and practical assignments that test their capabilities. As students succeed in one assignment, they will garner more confidence in their skills to move on to tougherones. While students are completing these assignments, it is important for the faculty to work as mentors to encourage them to succeed, even when they falter.

However, an inflated development of a student's self-efficacy is a cause for concern. If an individual has an exaggerated sense of self-efficacy, which is beyond their actual ability, it could lead to an overestimation of their perceived ability to complete tasks, causing a higher risk of failure. On the other hand, when self-efficacy is significantly lower than one's actual ability, it discourages growth and skill development.

(The author Akhil Shahani is Managing Director, The Shahani Group)

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