One of the most significant challenges faced by any jobseeker is how to make yourself more marketable. It’s important to identify and develop qualities and skills that make you more attractive to potential employers than your counterparts. While the list of these qualities is extensive, and includes commonly known traits such as education and communication skills, this ever-evolving job market requires you to go above what is common. Here are 7 qualities/skills that every employee should seek to attain. <em>—Aisha M. Taylor</em>
<strong>Flexibility: </strong>Employers want to know that your experience has taught you to be flexible when it comes to schedule, travel, salary and assignments. A rigid mentality is unattractive to hiring managers and will likely result in the consideration of a candidate who is more willing to compromise. Your ability to be flexible will be recognized and likely rewarded.
<strong>Timelessness:</strong> Employers like to know that potential employees will be able to withstand during an ever-changing industry. The best way to convey your timelessness is to indicate your commitment to ongoing learning, training and credentialing. This might mean that you’ve taken a refresher course or updated your technical skills. Or, you can display your commitment to progression by researching upcoming systems, programs or laws that could affect your industry. Be as tech-savvy as possible, and keep up with the latest trends on how to use technology and social media to benefit your industry. Employers consider you an investment and want to be sure that their return will be able to endure the demands of a constantly changing market.
<strong>Problem-Solving:</strong> Problem-solving is perhaps the one quality that applies to every position imaginable. Whether you’re sweeping floors, flipping burgers, or the CEO of a major corporation, you must be able to solve problems. Your ability to demonstrate your problem-solving skills will give employers a confidence in you that they might not have otherwise had. Problems are a natural occurrence and employers are often drawn to those who can quickly and efficiently solve the many problems that come along with the territory. Victoria Anderson, partner resources manager with Starbucks Coffee Co., says, “Problem-solving is demonstrating the ability to identify a problem and helping to lead a team through solving it; or individually using your resources to solve that problem.”
<strong>Relationship-Building:</strong> Much greater than networking is your ability to build lasting professional relationships. Employers are impressed by candidates who have worked hard to establish and maintain professional relationships with key stakeholders. Employers will know if you possess the relationship-building skills they need in a variety of ways. If relationship-building hasn’t been your forte, start off small by connecting with those who have been instrumental in your career thus far. Send a simple e-mail touching base and thanking them (individually, of course) for their contributions to your career. Don’t ask for anything, but close the e-mail by stating that you’d love to stay in touch. This is a great way to begin building those relationships that could very well lead to your next career opportunity.
<strong>Domain Expertise:</strong> Since jobs are so hard to find in this economy, many professionals feel like they need to become a jack of all trades. While employers are impressed by multi-talented professionals, they are impacted more by professionals who have become experts in a particular industry or profession. Managers hire two types of people…those who can do the things they can’t do; and those who can do the things they don’t want to do. In order to fit one of these descriptions, you will likely have to establish some level of expertise in your particular career. Tyese Battle, human resources manager with a Fortune 100 company, says, “These days, companies are looking for that employee who specializes in something rather than one who has a general knowledge base. Think about what you can be considered an expert in within your field. If you can't think of anything specific, that's what you need to work toward.”
<strong>Resiliency:</strong> Employers can sense a weak or timid employee a mile away. Your professional background can also be tell-tale signs of one who retreats during times of challenge. However, resiliency is a much desired trait because employers want to know that they’re hiring someone who won’t break down or quit during tough times. Hannah Morgan, Career Strategist and creator of <a href="http://careersherpa.net/" target="_blank"><strong>Careersherpa.net</strong></a> confirms that “in today's highly volatile and ever-changing workplace, being able to spring back as a solid performer and contributor is a necessity for employers.” Use the interview as your opportunity to prove your resiliency. Talk about past professional challenges and how you overcame them. “The interviewer can watch the body language and tone of the applicant for signs of discomfort that would indicate this experience may not have been a positive one or one they adapted to well,” states Hannah.
<strong>Leadership: </strong>Not to be confused with management, leadership skills can be acquired at any level of a career. Leadership is not necessarily about managing staff. Instead, leadership is simply about influence and productivity. If you can influence positive change and improve your own productivity, you are a leader when compared to those who aren’t meeting the same goals. To become more marketable as a leader, begin to document your career accomplishments and the specific roles you played. Then, be prepared to share your leadership skills with a potential employer … even if it’s not a management role. A true leader is welcome on every level. Victoria Anderson shares that “leadership is a catch phrase that encompasses a host of skills such as, project management, communication, time-management, client relationships, and negotiation.” A marketable employee will work intentionally to enhance their skills in these areas.