There is a Hollywood teen college romcom called ‘10 Things I Hate About You’. A feisty “shrew” of a student refuses to date anyone because that would conform with societies expectations. When young, you can feel the same about applying getting a job or training to upskill. Why conform to society expectations by putting on a suit and having to telling some loser what your skills and weaknesses are? But unless your Mark Zuckerberg wearing a hoodie to meet investors, if you want a career you need to think about how you operate. Here are some of my top 10 tips to be more employable;
- Know your strengths. When you Google, you search on key words. Think about what will make you appear on the first page of search results. Being sociable and having good communication skills isn’t a thing, everyone can do that. Upskill your abilities, what programmable languages are you an expert in, are you an engineer or a marketeer. What are your meta tags. If you haven’t got the strengths needed in today’s market, upskill yourself with self-organised training. This self-training will impress potential employers.
- Network. There’s an old saying that sending a company an unsolicited CV is less than 1% likely to result in an interview. Through a recruitment consulting this nears 50%, through a networked friend or colleague is near guaranteed to get an interview and possibly the job. Let your friends, family and old colleagues know you’re in the employment market, spread the word. Find recruitment agencies in your sector who typically get paid when they fill a role, they are on your side and will often negotiate a better financial package than you could alone. Ask them what training you need to upskill to the needs of their target employers.
- Be nice to everyone, at all levels of a firm, through your entire career. Maybe not today, but in years to come people remember who the good guys were and who were the bad. Careers are long, and it is more than likely that you’ll be offered a job one day from an old friend or colleague, unless you were an idiot. Yes, you might never want to work at McDonalds again, but it’s people that make business. Spectacular resignations that burn bridges might be amusing, but they don’t help that person get jobs in the future. At every bad company there are good people, and in the future those people might bring you to their great company. Getting a job once you’re in a job is much easier, so you’ll often have to get a rubbish job first before the dream one comes along.
- Upskill. Industry is changing fast, and you’ve got to upskill with it and constantly get new training. Banking doesn’t need good communication skills, it needs someone that can build a chatbox. Upskill your programming languages or training needs to match where your industry will be in 5 years from now.
- Personal Expertise. People that enjoy their work and follow the news of what’s happening in their chosen field can fly through interviews. Follow experts on twitter or join groups on LinkedIN, upskill your personal expertise. When someone talks about something they like, it’s evident and often they don’t need to read from a script. Have your questions ready, show them you want to deploy your expertise and also improve yourself with their help. Interviews are a two-way street, they’ve got to show what they can do for you.
- Industry Skill. If you’re interested in Open Banking, Fitness, Dolphin Training – then write about it on places like LinkedIn with a blog. Employers will either find you, or if you find them and interview, then you can show you are genuinely interested in the industry. Go onto your ideal employers web-site and see if they are hiring, as it’s better for them to find an interest person direct without a recruitment middle man taking a slice.
- Tailor your CV. Every job is different, and your CV should be focussed on the needs of that company. Find out who might be interviewing you, look for things they’ve written or spoken about at conferences. Tailor your CV, show what training you’ve done and the relevant skills who have.
- Prepare for interviews. I know that having to answer some dumb HR questions like “what are your weaknesses” are a pain, but often the HR person has the veto on an application. Don’t give obvious trite answers, e.g. “I’m too pedantic, I have to get everything perfect” or “I work too hard, I have no work life balance”. Have an answer ready that meets the job requirement. No-one likes interviewing, they want to find the right person so they can stop searching. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself on this expertise, shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to. Ask how you can upskill yourself through training that will benefit their company.
- Social Media. Yes, use LinkedIn as it is now the primary tool used by recruitment agents to find potential employment targets, i.e. you. Confirm your skills and document what training you’ve done to keep up to date on industry trends. Don’t put saucy pictures on Instagram, or like stories about anti-immigration or touchy political statements on Facebook.
- Credit profile. Don’t get into financial difficulty if you want to work in financial services. As this is now often checked with credit reference agencies, alongside your personal references.
So, what happens at the end of the film, once the 10 things we hate have been dealt with? Well the “shrew” decides that it’s OK to compromise on her terms, and the film gets a happy ending. Getting a job is just the start, chances are you’ll have many jobs and probably several different “careers” by the time you’re done. You need to continuously upskill and identify training needs. Constant upskilling is the new normal for anyone hoping to stay relevant. Work through this list of 10 things you might hate doing to get a job, but at the end we’ll all be happy with lower unemployment! It just might not make such a fun film to watch.