In today’s fast-paced, globalized markets, it is essential to keep ‘up with the play’. To position yourself at the forefront of candidates, your skill set must be continuously evolving to meet changing organizational demands.
Concepts such as loyalty, charted career paths, and lifelong employment are no longer feasible for most organizations. Job security can no longer be guaranteed. Therefore, the responsibility for career development and management has largely (if not wholly) been passed over to the employee.
By having a wide range of skills that can be applied to a variety of jobs, organizations, and industries you will position yourself at the forefront of the labor market.
Below are some tips to increase your marketability:
NEVER STOP LEARNING
We live in a knowledge age. As the result of research and scientific advancement, new and efficient ways of approaching tasks are constantly being ‘discovered’. It is therefore essential that we recognize the importance of frequently updating our skills and knowledge so that we are not ‘left behind’ in the knowledge movement. To ensure that you are at the leading edge of developments in your field of work, you could greatly benefit from attending workshops or seminars regularly, investing time in further education (such as night classes or extramural study), and finding new ways of developing or utilizing additional skills in your organization (such as expanding your role or types of tasks you perform in your job).
BE FLEXIBLE AND ADAPTABLE
The ability to be flexible and adapt to different tasks and situations is a key requirement sought from employees in today’s fast-paced world. Improvisation, an ability to grasp new concepts with ease, the capacity and willingness to acquire new skills in response to organizational and market demands, and the ability to “hit the ground running” are qualities likely to impress almost any employer. Careers have been likened to improvisational theater; you are the actor, the organization is the theater. Different roles and situations will be thrown at you and it is up to you to come up with a suitable response. Being savvy to the changing needs of organizations and being able to ‘step up to the plate’ when necessary will help keep you at the forefront of the labor market pool and ensure that you are not left behind in the “war for talent”. Start considering steps you can take today to increase your flexibility.
CHALLENGE YOURSELF, TAKE RISKS, BREAK OUT OF YOUR CAREER COMFORT ZONE…
Being willing to take risks and try new things is a necessity for career growth. There is a first time for everything and if you never take the chance to try different things you’ll never realize the true extent of your capabilities. Don’t be afraid to fail; hardly anyone gets it right first time, every time. Through failure comes experience and knowledge of how to do better next time. By trying new things you can discover talents you never knew you had! Scared of presentations? Volunteer yourself next time one comes up. As the saying goes, “Do one thing everyday that scares you”. Development implies progression and progression does not come from standing still.
So, do something that scares you today!
GET FEEDBACK FROM AS MANY SOURCES AS POSSIBLE
The belief that ‘no-one knows you like you know yourself’ does not always stand up in reality. Often, people you see on a regular basis, such as friends, family, partners, coworkers, and superiors may be more able to accurately pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. Asking them for feedback on what you do well and not-so-well will give you a comprehensive idea on what your general (and specific) strengths and weaknesses are. Encourage them to be as honest with you as possible and take any criticism constructively. If you want a more objective assessment, an occupational psychologist or career coach has a variety of assessment instruments that effectively pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, what values are most important to you, and highlight certain aspects of your personality that may impact upon your career.
FOLLOW THE MARKET
The way jobs are constructed and the characteristics valued by employers are vastly different to the way they were several decades ago. A wide spectrum of occupations, positions, and even industries have emerged that previously didn’t exist or were only marginal. By paying close attention to the directions of organizations and industries, one can keep informed about trends and changes in the business and labor markets, and identify skills that are likely to be valued in the future. To increase your market savvy, it may be highly useful to read the paper regularly (particularly the business sections) and articles on your field of interest.
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
Networking is the career boosting tool of the 21st century. Having a good range and number of contacts in your field and related fields can open up a world of opportunities, the bigger the network the greater the possibilities. Only around 20% of job vacancies are advertised, while the other 80% are filled through word-of-mouth and contacts. Take active steps to extend your network of career contacts, attend functions and seminars in your field regularly, join a professional association, or make a note to keep in contact with that person you were talking to at a party last week.