How to make yourself more employable

9 May 2012

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9 May 2012 | Rebecca Ellinor in Baltimore, US

Keep your skills current, identify your future path and make sure you communicate it to others, advises Kathi Jobkar, manager, strategic sourcing for Allegheny Technologies.

Jobkar outlined a series of steps delegates should take to advance their careers in the ‘managing your employability’ workshop session at the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) 97th annual conference in Baltimore in the US. Much of the advice involves asking yourself a series of questions to discover where you are, where you want to go and what you’re capable of. “Know who you are, your skills and shortcomings and what makes you feel fulfilled,” she said.

She suggested delegates write a list of their strengths and weaknesses and seek honest input from friends and family. Next, she said, write a one-page biography that explains what you do today and what you’ve done in the past, including career highlights and credentials. If you have a second degree, highlight it on your business card, “it’s your calling card, it should speak for you to some extent, and you’ve earned it”, she said.

Next write a list of your preferences and priorities – what sort of environment do you like to work in, do you like people around, whereabouts in the world would you like to be situated, what perks do you want and what commute will you put up with?

Once you know what you want to do, Jobkar recommends people research the industry and speak to those in it. “Network and take some courses if necessary to bring your skills up to scratch,” she said. She added delegates should market themselves by making it easy for people to find out about their capabilities and get their contact details. Also, she suggested: “Get a friend to video you being ‘interviewed’ so you can see how you perform and build a portfolio to take to interviews that includes examples of your work and achievements.”

If you want to develop in the role you’re already in, Jobkar said you should write an advancement plan. “Increase your value to the company by preparing – understand what the drivers of success are and find ways to contribute to them. Offer to take on more responsibility, expand your skill set, communicate your goals to your boss, observe what critical functions other members of your team are doing and consider doing them too.”

She also suggested purchasers consider moonlighting to earn some extra money and job satisfaction – “perhaps you’re good at photography, you could lead an exercise class, bake cakes or walk dogs”.

“What would your ideal life look like?,” she concluded. “Eliminate excuses and get out there, progress is made in inches not miles at a time and every experience you have, good or bad, prepares you for the next thing.”

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