A Better Way to Boost Your Employability
Blog | Life and Leadership | January 14, 2016
Do these words of advice sound familiar: Redesign your CV. Get more educational certificates. Learn new software. Learn new languages. Update your LinkedIn Profile. Update your wardrobe. Go to networking events.
Yes, those are all good things to do to gain an edge over the competition, but what good would it be to add basic French to your CV, if you are a programmer based in the US? Or as a pre-school teacher, do you really need to learn Adobe Photoshop?
Employability is not about following a formula for an impressive CV. It’s about strategizing on how to stay relevant and flexible, investing in what matters in the job market today and tomorrow. To be highly employable is to be able to bring value, both now and in the future. It is to keep growing as businesses and our roles in the workforce continue to evolve.
So how do we stay relevant, adaptable, ready for the future, and more than qualified for the jobs we want?
1. Nurture relationships
Value and nurture your relationships—both personal and professional. According to interviewsuccessformula.com, and Forbes.com, around 80% of jobs in 2012 were never advertised. That number also represents the percentage of jobs filled through referrals. If you maintain good relationships in your professional and personal circles, you will always be a candidate for new opportunities among those who know you.
In networking events there is a shared understanding that everyone is in it for the same reason: to fish for opportunities from each other. Most people use events like these to build a wide network, but these relationships tend to be superficial. Some people tend to go wide, in fear of missing out. But going deeper creates satisfying and lasting relationships. Staying in touch and spending time with the people who matter to you and are part of your professional circle also sets up a support system for you when you find yourself in a season of transition.
2. Pursue excellence
Everything you do at work—and whatever it is you are working on right now—has an impact on your performance and your image as a worker. Your level of professionalism at work is one factor to boost your employment, and a job well done is your best cheerleader.
For example, B+C Design is a design agency I worked at for six years in Manila, and they never had, and still do not have, a sales officer. They do not need to actively search for new projects because new work keeps coming in, thanks to word of mouth. Because of their consistently outstanding work, clients kept recommending them to their friends and acquaintances.
3. Build character
Character is your most valuable asset. If faced with a decision to choose between a highly skilled candidate with poor character and a decently skilled candidate with outstanding character, employers would most often prefer those with a better disposition. However, feigning your character isn’t something you should do for it must come from within. In the long run, your character will definitely get tested, and if you are simply pretending to be of good moral it will certainly begin to show.
4. Deepen your expertise
While adding to your portfolio of skills is good, going the extra mile always adds significant value to you and to your work. For example, when a graphic designer invests in relevant courses such as typography or illustration, it enriches his work. Taking a cooking class may widen his horizon and add insight to his creative process but it doesn’t directly increase his value as a designer.
Strengthen your expertise in your field through further study, whether it be formal or informal. Expand your mind as well by attending conferences overseas, traveling with curious eyes, and exploring your field.
5. Strengthen your core skills
Core skills, otherwise known as soft skills, are non-technical skills. Examples of these are things like communication skills, emotional intelligence, leadership, and organizational skills. These skills are just as important, if not more valued, than technical skills. They are essential to good work performance, better teamwork, and long lasting relationships.
Communication skills and emotional intelligence skills help with interaction, which are essential for your first encounter with someone—whether a company’s HR or CEO—and your long-term work relationships as well.
Courses on core skills also provide certificates or badges that can appear on your CV or LinkedIn Profile. Adding your core skills certificates as well as profiles such as DISC or Strengthsfinder help give a more vivid picture of who you are. The clearer the picture you give a potential employer, the easier it is for them to trust you.
The good news about developing your employability is you don’t have to scramble to reinvent yourself, redesign your CV, or shell out thousands of dollars for a crash course. It’s all about taking yourself to the next level by focusing on your goals, direction, and the people who are important to you.
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