So the world has been hit by an economic slowdown, companies are cutting back on costs by reducing their workforce, and the job market is the most crowded it’s been in recent history. The good news is, there remains a demand for versatile and dependable people to take charge. You’re bright and your resumé is top-notch; what else can you do to land your dream job and (more importantly) keep it?
For starters, cultivating the following skills will definitely be a step in the right direction:
1. A Habit of Empathy
It is widely known that the majority of companies prefer candidates with prior job experience. This is less about skills and actual experience and more about workplace acclimatization and empathy. Simply put, employers assume (often correctly) that candidates who have been employed by a reputed firm in the past can integrate better in the team-oriented workplace of today.
George Anders, the New York Times Bestselling author of Perfect Enough, recently wrote that the number one job skill in 2020 will be empathy. Empathy refers to a person’s ability to think from the perspective of another, or to put it colloquially, to ‘place yourself in someone else’s shoes’. Empathy is a key skill employers look for, even though it is often grouped under ‘EQ’, ‘personal skills’ or ‘soft skills’.
Cultivating a habit of empathy requires reframing your perspective (as this free course teaches you) and altering the way you approach life. It requires you to consider situations from the viewpoint of others and thinking on your feet. For instance, during the all-important interview process, try approaching questions from your interviewer’s viewpoint – what impression do you make when you first walk into the room? What is the first thought that rings in their head when they hear you speak? What would they make of your portfolio or your academic record? If you can consistently think in this manner, you will find a growing empathy for others, which will reflect in your personal skills (and which will make you a favorite of employers – not to mention, help tremendously in networking).
Being tech-savvy doesn’t mean adding ‘Microsoft Word’ in your resume. It means having a working knowledge of technical concepts. It wouldn’t hurt to have a basic grasp of common database management systems such as SQL or a programming language like PHP, even if it isn’t a part of your job description. The best part is that picking up technical skills is easier than ever with a treasure trove of tutorial and coaching websites around. This course on Coding for Entrepreneurs will get you up to speed on common technical concepts within a fortnight.
Don’t fret over the extra effort – best case scenario, it gets you noticed and lauded. Worst case scenario, you acquire a new skill that might save you some time later.
And an extra qualification never hurt anyone.
3. A Visible Presence
You may have the right qualifications, but unless people know about it, you’ll never get that dream job you’ve been after. Far too many talented people languish in sub-par jobs because they don’t put themselves out there.
Start with a blog. Don’t treat this as a platform to share stories about your cat or muse about sports and politics. Consider it a professional outlet where you demonstrate your skill, knowledge and domain expertise. Ensure that you blog on your own domain, not a sub-domain of a blog publisher (example.com, not example.wordpress.com). Get yourself a high quality blog template (or better, build one yourself, as this course on WordPress will teach you) and make sure you have all the relevant pages (About, Portfolio, etc.). Make it a point to write high quality blog posts at least once a week. Ultimately, this blog should be the first thing employers see when they search for your name (and they will search for your name).
Another great way to make your presence known is to ask and answer questions on platforms like LinkedIn and Quora. LinkedIn is a favorite among HR heads and recruiters, so ensure you have a complete profile and an active presence on this platform. Quora is relatively new, but counts some of Silicon Valley’s brightest leaders among its regular leaders, so it won’t hurt to make a splash there.
4. An Aura of Professionalism
The last thing employers want to see when they Google your name is a bunch of Facebook pictures from that party. Remember that every piece of public content you put out there can and will be used by employers to judge you. This applies to tweets, Instagram pictures, and blog posts as well. It’s very easy for employers to misinterpret your Twitter jokes and offhand Facebook comments, so think twice before you share anything publicly.
The skills you learned in college will help only partially in landing your dream job. To really make an impression, you need to be a walking embodiment of the skills and values outlined above. This requires more effort than simply getting a degree, but it will ensure that you land the job you’ve always been dreaming of.