5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Career Skill Set

5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Career Skill Set
From Recruiter - November 18, 2016

In 2011, I began a new job search in earnest, submitting close to 100 job applications over a three-year period. The only two interviews I got were for unpaid internships. I was positively baffled and discouraged by the experience. Why was this happening to me?

To find the answer, I examined my job search, scoured what seems like every job-related chat forum on the planet, read books and blog posts, and spoke to job seekers about their experiences.

While the specific reasons why people dont land certain jobs vary,I did uncover a common theme: Job seekers were putting more effort into the quantity of their applications (e.g., I have applied to 100 jobs in five months) than the quality of their applications.

Here are five ways to make yourself more competitive in the job market by focusing on quality:

1. Identify Peers in Your Industry and Emulate Them

With a LinkedIn account, you have access to a wide range of folks whoare already working in your industry of choice. While looking at all these established professionals could certainly make you feel even less qualified, you can also flip the script by emulating those who have already succeeded in their career searches.

Action: Browse the profiles of at least 10 people who are already working in your industry or job of choice and note the hard skills that they possess. It is useful to start broad, perhaps writing down as many as five teachable, measurable skills per profile that you visit. After youve done that, begin to draw lines between profiles, looking at the skills and experiences that you find on more than one profile.

At one point in my career, I was interested in working in the financial services industry. I networked with folks and searched the profiles of dozens of LinkedIn members. I also began reading short biographies of several industry leaders to get a sense of their experiences. I noticed that folks working in my subsector of choice all had credit analysis and financial modeling experience, so I learned as much as I could about these fields and added them to my profile.

The Spin: This exercise prepares you for the job search in several ways: It helps you talk like an industry veteran, even though you may not be one yet; it helps you identify industry needs that you can add to your skill set (see No. 2 below); and it shows the potential employer that you are both up to date and ready to hit the ground running when you begin the job.

Dont feel intimidated if you find that others have 10+ years of experience with several degrees from Harvard. Often,these degrees are a function of social standing, so compete with people head to head by being prepared. Furthermore, this step also helps you discover new companies that may interest you.

2. Give Yourself the Education You Want

Best-selling author Alvin Toffler said that knowledge is the most democratic source of power. Today, more than at any other moment in our history, we have access to countless free educational resources that allow us to build skillsthat make us more desirable candidates.

Action: Look through job descriptions of five positions you applied to but did not get an interview for or five positions that you would like to apply to. Identify 2-3 skills in these descriptions that you do not currently have but would like to add to your skill set.

For example, in looking through job descriptions, you might notice that they all call for experience with Salesforce, but you have never used the software. Through sites likeUdemy, you can search for courses on Salesforce and find that you can become a certified beginner for as little as $19 and eight hours of your time.

The Spin: Employers look favorably upon a job seeker who has taken a proactive approach to acquiring skills. In an episode of the James Altucher Show, CEO and founder Matt Barrie told the story of a candidate who was vying for an engineering position at his company. This candidate had several formal education degrees along with Courseracourses on his transcript. Barrie said his hiring team was more interested in the candidates Coursera work because it was something the candidate pursued on his own. Such independent education initiatives demonstrate commitment to the job and the industry.

3. Obtain Professional Certifications

Much like self-education, certifications are vocational qualifications that demonstrate your commitment to an industry or joband can distinguish you from competitors. By that same token, professional certifications can also help candidates acquire industry-standard credentials and/or transferable skills that are useful in other industries. For example, those in accounting or finance may pursue certified public accountant (CPA) or chartered financial analyst (CFA) certifications while also taking courses in project management or leadership in order to gain skills that will increase the scope of their searches across industries and job types.

Action: If you are not aware of the specific certifications needed to land a job in your industry, you should follow the advice outlined above in order to identify necessary skills you need to develop.Then, think about pursuing certifications that fall into the following broad buckets:

- Business management


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