Professional development doesn’t have to stay within the context of your current job and responsibilities. While becoming marketable begins within your current position, it’s also about projecting to the future, and considering what prospective employers will need, as well as deciding what you want your future career path could look like.
Making yourself more marketable means committing to expanding your skills and knowledge in order to stay current, competitive and in a strong position to compete for jobs of the future market.
Here are eight ways to stay on-trend in terms of your skills, and stay relevant marketable for companies at any stage of your career.
1. Seek out opportunities to add skills
As requirements for different roles evolve, your skills and knowledge should evolve with them. Learn about the skill sets your current job could need six months or one year from now, keeping your company’s goals and plans in mind as well. Once you’ve identified these skills, find channels toward upgrading, whether through classes, online courses, or workshops and conferences.
Pay special attention to both your transferable skills, as well as to soft skills. These include strengths like leadership, communication and technology awareness: they’ll always be an asset, and are a solid investment in your future career.
2. Keep learning about your industry
Continual learning illustrates your commitment to improvement. Stay up-to-date with industry best practices and technology, regardless of your current position. Strengthening your knowledge and qualifications will increase the value you represent to a current or potential employer.
Online seminars, conferences or industry publications are also a great way to keep up with your industry, and the key issues that are driving change around the corner. They also make it easier to transfer into a new career discussion down the line.
3. Refresh and renew your CV
Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of the job search to refresh your CV. As you accomplish milestones you’re proud of, update your CV, including recent achievements, and new skills acquired. Your CV will be ready as needed: whether for a new opportunity, or a role within your current organisation.
There are several ways to make your CV stand out from the rest: ensure your accomplishments are clear, and use data points to describe your accomplishments. Tailor your CV to each job application, and always follow up. Keeping your record of achievements current is also a good reminder of your accomplishments to date, and can be helpful when negotiating a pay rise.
4. Be open and flexible
As the job market evolves and changes, it’s important to keep an open mind, and stay flexible about the types of positions and responsibilities you’re willing to explore. In other words, don’t so no as a default response: flexibility means exploring new industries or different company types. Also, reconsider the job type you’re seeking: exploring options around contract or temporary work can help get you back in the saddle quickly, maintain momentum, and broaden your base of relevant experience.
5. Get comfortable with networking
The ability to network effectively can change your professional life – even if you’re not in the market now, it’s always of benefit to make connections with those in your industry, broaden your links to those with market knowledge and attend professional events and meetings. But don’t let it be one-way traffic: offering help and advice to others is a good way to earn it back when you need it.
6. Define your personal brand
Branding is as important to individuals as it is to companies. When you’re looking for a job, or even in your current career, you want to present your experience, skills, and overall narrative in the best light. These elements, plus your personality and values, add up to your personal brand. The most important thing is that this brand is consistent and professional, without been bland. Use LinkedIn and other social tools to craft a story about the kind of employee you are, what your greatest strengths are, and where you see yourself next.
7. Showcase your best work
Keep samples of your best work – as long as they’re not the intellectual property of your current employer – to establish an online portfolio. This is an easy way to show you value your work and its quality. Attach a basic portfolio to your LinkedIn profile to make it easier for potential employers to see what you’re capable of. Then craft a more in-depth version upon request.
8. Seek out a mentor
Speaking to someone you trust and with suitable stature to give advice, is a great step towards finding a mentor. Learn what helped them get to where they are, or what look for in hiring for a similar position. If there’s particular skillset or achievement you need, work on a refresher ahead of time. And lastly, a mentor is a great person to help you recharge confidence, as well as rehearsing possible interview scenarios around the corner.