Employers are increasingly looking for certain skills that will benefit their organization. Though the list of skills is practically unlimited, there are certain ones that have common applications across business lines, that will increase your value as an employee.
According to this post at Forbes, there could be 47 million people being laid off which would lead to an unemployment rate of 32.1%, higher than the Great Depression’s worst rate of 24.9%.
Despite the gloomy fact, there are still opportunities for professionals and job seekers who are willing to put in the work and keep upgrading their skills to make themselves more valuable to employers.
Nowadays, due to the high competition in the job market, it’s not enough to just show up and do what’s required by your job.
You need to go above and beyond and bend over backward to show your employers and clients what you’ve got, to stay in the game and excel.
Therefore, future-focused career professionals need to use strategies to increase their value to their employer, to be able to claim a spot in the competitive job market and score a high salary and lucrative benefits package.
However, it’s important to remember that building skills, knowledge, and expertise could take years, not something you can obtain overnight.
The sooner you start, the better your chance to gain and polish valuable skills needed, as well as having extra time to add more and more skills and knowledge to round up your competencies and increase your value in the marketplace.
Thus, starting early, as early as in university, will give you a huge advantage over those who didn’t. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t really think much about preparing myself for employment when I was still at school.
During my years in undergraduate school, I was too busy exploring my newfound freedom as an adult (I’ll leave that to your interpretation ).
While during graduate school, I was too busy with my other responsibilities such as my part-time job and taking care of my family, since I went back to school as an older student and a student mom.
In retrospect, I wish I would have done more while I was still studying at school, to increase my value in the marketplace.
Below are some of them:
1. Actively Join an Organization
A social or campus organization will help you in your personal development, especially in developing your Emotional Intelligence.
It refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others (emotional awareness), to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving, and the ability to manage emotions.
Actively joining an organization during your school years will help you develop and hone your emotional intelligence.
Apart from that, experience managing certain roles in the organization will help you prepare yourself for your future roles in the workplace.
You will learn and practice valuable skills such as communication skills, decision making, teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, and so on, which will be super beneficial for your future career.
If you don’t have much time since you must focus on your study (and taking care of your other responsibilities such as your work and family, if you are an older student or student mom and dad), just choose one organization that is more relevant with your future career goals, as well as where you can shine and is passionate about.
2. Read More
Don’t just read books and journals related to your study. Make time to read books and articles about the latest news in your industry, fields, and area of expertise to keep you updated.
If you have a dream job, read, and find out information related to that job as much as you can, such as the career prospects, the salary standard, the latest trends and practices, the technological breakthrough or political situations that could affect the industry, the changing in some of the policies, rules, and regulations in that particular field and so on.
Chances are, they will become handy someday, whether in the job interview or in the actual situation where you finally landed your dream job.
The accumulation of knowledge you acquired might help you answer that tricky interview question to test your knowledge about the job, help you solve a problem at work, and so on.
It’s a win for you because, in both situations, you will come across as someone competent and valuable, thanks to your rigorous effort in keep continue adding knowledge for yourself to increase your value.
3. Up Grade Yourself
Apart from reading, you will also need to reflect on yourself to give yourself an upgrade. Picture your dream job, and make a list of the values and competencies needed to excel in the job.
For example, if you want to work in the Marketing Communication field, you will need excellent communication skills, networking, writing skills (to write press releases, articles, copywriting, social media content et cetera), public speaking, digital marketing, and so on.
Then make a list of your current competencies and rate them. Do you have all the skills, knowledge, and competencies required to do the job? If you don’t, find some courses, read some books, or take certain subjects to learn them.
Be honest when you rate yourself. Which competencies do you need to upgrade and learn more about? Even for the ones you’re confident you could do very well, there’s always room for improvement.
Build and upgrade your competencies, and keep on learning and adding skills and knowledge even the ones that are not directly related to your dream job, so that by the time you graduate, you’ll have enough to increase your value as a potential employee.
Go above and beyond, and try to learn something new which will enrich your skill sets and set you apart from the competitor.
And as someone who is interested in working in the marketing communication field, for example, having design skills will be helpful.
You could edit the advertising and promotion materials by yourself instead of relying on your graphic designer. At least you could do a little touch-up here and there and save some time, for example.
4. Find an internship or Volunteer Opportunity
Just like joining an organization, an internship or a volunteer program will prepare you for the job since you will be working with other people in the workplace environment.
Moreover, this opportunity could boost your resume, especially when you work for a big corporation or multinational company.
I was working on a consultancy project for several months at Google Italia. I believe that experience opened doors for me and helped get me to my next employment. But still, I should’ve done more by maximizing my learning process there.
So, please, even though you are super busy with your study, and also busy with taking care of your family if you are an adult student and a student mom or dad, find time to do an internship while you are still studying.
When you get one, make the most of your time there, and learn and absorb as much as you can. Do your best, and make a good and lasting impression so that when they need someone to fill a certain role that fits you, they will think of you.
Don’t forget to express your interest. Tell your employers how grateful you are for the opportunity, that you appreciate everything they gave you and how you learn so much and enjoy the whole process.
Tell them how much the experience has helped you grow, and that you are interested in joining them in the future, after your graduation.
Keep in contact with them by emailing them every now and then, chances are they are more than willing to keep in touch with you.
5. Grow Your Network
I must say this is my biggest regret. As a mature student and a student mom, I had very little time to spare to do some networking. So please don’t make the same mistake.
Spend some time attending local networking events. Many of them are attended by young professionals, who are sympathetic to college-aged job seekers, as well as seasoned veterans who have connections in your field.
You could also connect with your local chambers of commerce. They may have plenty of professional development workshops and other networking opportunities targeted at fresh graduates and young professionals.
If you don’t have much time to physically attend local networking events, try to do the networking virtually through social media.
Make connections with professionals in your field through LinkedIn, join, and ex-pat forum where you can connect and ask questions, and share knowledge and experience with professionals who have international backgrounds.
6. Find Mentors
Find mentors that you could look up to as role models, as well as someone who can give you advice and guidance related to your study and future career.
It can be anyone; your professors, your boss at the company or organization you work/volunteer in, alumni whose career you aspired to have, and so on.
Learn as much as you can from them. Observe, ask questions and advice, ask for their opinion about things related to your future career goals et cetera.
Don’t be shy to approach them because you’re worried they would refuse to help you. Having a college or graduate student seek you out as an example of professional life they would like to emulate is flattering. Most people will respond positively.
If you reach out to them via email or social media, keep your message simple and use polite language. Tell them how you found them and why you want to connect with them. But keep it short and be mindful of their time (this also applies every time you contact them).
Use this printable workbook to record your Back to School Research. Don’t make all that Campus Visits, Virtual Tours, Webinars, and Q&A with the school’s admission personnel go to waste !! Write down the information you have collected in this workbook.
Study them later carefully to help you weigh in the pros and cons of each university and decide the best place for you to continue your study.
7. Make Goals Setting but Keep It Realistic
Write down your future goals, what are they? What kind of actions do you need to do to achieve them? When can you reach it, as soon as you graduate? a year after?
When it comes to making a goal-setting, aim high but keep it realistic and achievable. It’s better if you set smaller goals first, gradually setting them higher and higher and accomplishing them one by one instead of one big (and perhaps) unrealistic one.
Be open to many possibilities, and don’t limit yourself to certain goals or plans. If you study psychology, perhaps your main goal is to be a psychotherapist.
But you need to also have a plan B. Who knows that after graduation, you get the opportunity to work as an HR personnel at a multinational company, a counselor or educational psychologist at a university, and so on?
The most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing, keep learning and adapting, upgrading yourself to increase your value and competencies in the workplace.
Over to You…
Often when it comes to our careers, the focus is solely on landing that dream job. But the key to being successful doesn’t end when you land that dream job.
It really lies in continually building your confidence and constantly improving yourself, so you are always competent, no matter where you find yourself.
The sooner you start building, the better. If you are still studying, now it’s the perfect time to start. I didn’t do it and I can’t count how many times I would like to kick myself for that.
Here’s the recap of what I wish I would’ve done at university to increase my value in the marketplace; to actively join an organization, read more and keep upgrading myself.
Make the most of my internship opportunity, spend more time growing my network, find myself a kick-ass mentor, and set goals for myself to give a clearer path on which direction I should’ve taken to bring me closer and closer to my goal.
Although I love my life and enjoy my work, I still think if I had done those things I mentioned above, I would’ve gone even further with my career.
That’s why I’m sharing it with you so that you don’t make the same mistake that I do. Do you agree with me?
Are you also guilty of not doing any or some of them while you were still at school? How does it affect your career now? Share them down below, I would love to hear from you
Pin this and share the post on social media if you find it helpful…it would mean a lot to me
Thanks so much and till next time !!!
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