A ‘Boundary-Friendly’ Approach to Understanding the Drivers of Graduate Employability

Belgin Okay-Somerville, Dora Scholarios

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


Despite increasing emphasis by the ‘new’ career literature and the UK skills policies on self-directedness of employability, there is now increasing evidence to suggest that educational background plays a crucial role in determining graduate employment outcomes. This paper examines the drivers of graduate employability. Using survey data collected from two cohorts of graduates in the UK (2009 and 2010, N=433), it tests the conditional role of degree course and university type on the indirect effect of self-esteem on perceived employability via career self-management (i.e., career exploration, job search, networking and guidance seeking). Data was analysed with indirect and moderated mediation analysis techniques using the PROCESS tool for SPSS (Hayes, 2009, 2012). The results show that perceived employability upon graduation is directly and indirectly (via job search and guidance seeking) associated with self-esteem, but job search and guidance seeking due to high self-esteem results in less favourable employability perceptions for graduates of ‘new’ UK universities who studied non-professional degree courses in comparison to those who studied professional degree courses in the more prestigious ‘old’ universities. The findings, largely support the self-directedness of employability argument associated with the ‘new’ career, yet extend this by demonstrating a positional (dis)advantage in employability due to educational background. This has implications for studying careers from a more ‘boundary-friendly’ perspective and for the employability agenda in the UK skills policy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
EventAcademy of Management - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: 12 Aug 201112 Aug 2011


ConferenceAcademy of Management
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX


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