7 Skills To Improve Your Job Prospects
We are often asked questions such as,
“What skills do I need to get a job?”
“What do I need to know and do to maximise my employment prospects?”
“What kind of education should I get to be employable?”
These questions can be answered in many ways.
We can use statistics to show current employment trends or what careers or degrees offer the highest employment rates and the biggest salaries. Or we can offer you suggestions that will serve you best now and throughout your career…We prefer this approach as it will equip you with the skills to navigate your career path.
So here’s the 7 key skills that we think you should focus on developing and applying.
1. Play To Your Strengths And Interests
It can be tempting to pursue jobs and study which are “in” now or which others encourage you to consider. But these will often run out of meaning and purpose if “they are not you”. Make a conscious effort to understand “Who am I?” and “What am I good at and like doing, and fits with my values?”
USA research has shown that people who choose to study and train in areas that they are good at and interested in finish their courses earlier, get better marks and are more determined to finish the course / degree. And this carries over into work. People perform better, get more meaning from and stay longer in occupations that they are good at and suit their interests.
2. Get Good At Describing What You Want To Do And Why
When you know “Who am I?”, it’s much easier to know what career options will suit you personally and to develop your short-list of preferred career options.
But this is only half the game. Securing your preferred job or career requires you to be able to convince others why it suits you and you suit it. This is important when your application for a job is being processed and when you are being interviewed.
Our experience is that you will positively differentiate yourself from most other people if you can crisply and logically describe why you are suited to a given career. This requires you to think about it and practice what you might write and say.
3. Become Good At Something
Success leads to confidence, and success and confidence together generate more career options. Whether it’s in your chosen field of study, or trade training or in your early work career, you increase your prospects and options by doing it to the best of your ability. Employers easily recognise those who are good at what they are doing and often believe that this indicates the potential to develop further in this or other fields. That’s worth having as an advantage compared to other candidates for a job.
Being good at what you are doing now, whether it’s study or work, and irrespective of whether or not you think that is what you will want to be doing in 5 years, gives you the confidence and belief to pursue other career options if you then want to or need to. And that’s worth having in the changing world of work.
4. Be A Person Not A Machine Or A Robot
Many employers, including Google and Amazon globally and an increasing number of Australian companies, are not now hiring or advancing people based primarily on what they know and can do. They are increasingly seeking people who can interact with other people daily. You therefore need to develop skills to function and communicate well with others in order to have the best chance of being hired and to be successful in the future world of work. This suggests that you should do things such as consciously choosing some subjects or training programs which require you to work on projects in teams, give presentations and collaborate with others.
You will improve your job prospects now and in the future by learning to participate, contribute, persuade and represent your views while being respected by others. You also ideally need to learn to lead and to follow, and to take and respond to feedback. You can normally do this by interacting with other people a lot. And the earlier you start, the better.
These skills are also your defence against the emergence of robots, algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI). It is your ability to do what humans can do and machines cannot do that will help ensure you are employable in the future world of work.
If you can build effective relationships with other people and work with them, and ask questions to arrive at solutions and outcomes, you are likely to have a good chance of keeping ahead of the robots and machines… while also using them effectively.
5. Learn To Convert Information To Outcomes
The skill that is most commonly quoted as being sought by employers now goes under the buzz word of “critical thinking skills”. In simple language, this is the ability to evaluate information and data for its credibility and accuracy, to convert this into patterns and meaning, to be able to explain what it means and why, and to be able to make good recommendations or decisions.
Developing this skill normally requires you to read and observe a lot to understand the background to things, and to evaluate and critique what you are learning, and how it might be improved, done differently or adapted in the future. Being excellent at knowing or doing something now without the ability and mindset to think how it might be adapted or enhanced will not be enough to fend off technology in many jobs in the future.
6. Understand Technology
Even if you are good at solving problems as we were just encouraging, you also need to work at understanding technology. Developing a solid foundation of technical skills so that you understand the underlying workings and applications of such things as algorithms, AI, database analytics and structures, etc. is important to your functioning in the current and future workplace… even in traditional industry sectors such as law, taxation, banking, architecture, medicine, construction, etc.
You don’t’ have to be able to write code but you should ideally know how technology functions so that you can apply this knowledge in conjunction with your thinking and problem solving skills in arriving at solutions.
7. Think Like An Entrepreneur
The rapid change occurring in business models, work practices and society generally will continue to have a profound impact on jobs and employment. Whatever degree, training or jobs you are doing now is probably not going to be the job you hold 10 years from now. And there is a fair chance that employers may want to hire you in a different way 10 years from now. Remote, flexible, part-time and project working arrangements are growing in prevalence.
As the world of work changes, you will be advantaged if you can think and act entrepreneurially. Large organisations will be seeking this skill to compete with disrupters to their products and markets. And you will have more work options if you possess the skills to create your own job or way of working. Learning more about evaluating a market opportunity, design thinking, how to develop and pitch an idea, build an MVP or prototype and create a business will add to your prospects in most work settings.
You will read or hear many different thoughts on the skills that you will need to be employable. We think that the first six we have suggested will go a long way to making sure you are employable now and in the future world of work. And if you can develop some entrepreneurism to go with these, you will have more options again.