Employability: 4 Keys to Improvement

Growing a career in the 21st century is both exciting because of the range of opportunities, but also daunting because of the complexity of the hiring process. The odds can be daunting. You see a posting for an interesting job and get your materials together to submit. You make some tweaks to your resume and cover letter so that they are geared specifically to the opening and you apply. Then your resume sits in a file with about a hundred others waiting to be scanned. That’s right, 100 people applied right along with you.

Let’s assume 25% of them are disqualified pretty quickly. They have the wrong experience and are just spamming their resume out there. Sending the same resume out to hundreds of different jobs is a sure fire way to get no where fast. Now let’s eliminate another 20% who have resumes that are simply a disaster- no key words, typos, or long blocks of indecipherable text. Or worse they are written in the functional resume format and look just like the college resume they created in the 90’s. Even taking these into account you are still competing with 55 other applicants who most likely have a similar work history.

So how do you stand out? What can you do to differentiate yourself for the other 55 candidates? How do you become more employable?

The 4 keys of employability all revolve around self-improvement, and they are all within your grasp if you are willing to work for them.

Key 1: Read. A lot.
This is the easiest and most readily available professional development around. All you need is time and a library card. First, log on to Amazon and look up the best selling books in your industry. Make yourself a target list of 10 titles. Then go find as many of them as you can in the library. Or if you are able to, just download them onto your kindle. This step is the easy part, but now that you have gathered your materials you have to commit to using them. Make a commitment to read for around 30 minutes a day. Take some notes as you go, not to pass a test, but so that you can digest whatever you are reading. At the end of your 30 minutes write a couple sentence summary. This way the thread of the book will remain consistent throughout your reading. Even if the book does not provide you with earth-shaking revelations, you will still be learning what others in your industry are thinking about right now, and that is important because it leads to the next key.

Key 2: Write.
Once you have an idea what topics are popular within your industry, start talking about them publicly. Start a blog. Post on professional boards. Load some articles up on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform. Use the books you’ve read as a jumping off point, even if all you do is post some basic reviews. Getting your name out there are someone who is informed and has opinions about your industry can greatly improve your employability. Doing this also has the added benefit of giving you more to share on social media as a professional. Regular engagement on professional sites like LinkedIn or participation in industry Facebook groups adds to your own gravitas.

Key 3: Get involved.
Sign up for as many industry newsletters as you can and keep track of conferences, seminars and professional development opportunities. When it is feasible go to them in person. If there are online components do them as well. Interact with people within your industry and get noticed by others as well. Not only is this a great networking opportunity, you’ll also hopefully be learning a few new things as well. Recruiters are going to see a person who is involved in the areas where your industry is growing and that makes you an employee in demand.

Key 4: Learn a second language.
Go anywhere outside the U.S. and being multi lingual is pretty much the norm, so this advice is mainly for those of us state-side. Learning a second language can do nothing but help you compete in the global economy. Which language you chose is dependent on your industry, but just about every employee can benefit from improved communication skills. You never know when something as simple as this could be the difference between getting hired and not. There are a variety of great programs out there and some of them are simple, free apps you can put on your phone. You don’t need to become a fluent speaker of the new language, just be semi conversant. Often just showing the effort to a non English speaker goes a long way.

Make it a personal goal to follow through on these 4 keys and you are guaranteed to improve your employability. And the best part is that you can see results in as little as a month. You’ll be better informed, more connected and more ready to share what you know. 843