Date posted: 29/07/2020

10 tips for improving your employability

You can't necessarily control whether or not a recruiter chooses you from a pile of job applications, but you can do everything in your power to make yourself the most impressive candidate you can be.

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A report commissioned by the International Labour Organisation, Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020: Technology and the future of jobs, states "equipping young people with technical skills that are in high demand, together with life skills (e.g. communication, teamwork) that enhance their general employability, is crucial"1.

With this in mind, take a moment to reflect on where you are right now. Do you feel prepared to enter the workforce with confidence? Do you have the skills, knowledge and experience you need to land the job you want? Are there gaps in your skill set that you could fill to make you a more ideal candidate?

Here are ten simple ways you can improve your general employability, with resources and useful links to help you along the way.

1. Sharpen up your soft skills

With the constantly changing nature of work, soft skills - commonly referred to as the C-skills - are a must-have for today's students and graduates.

Developing those soft skills is just as critical to your personal and professional success as the technical knowledge and hard skills that you develop throughout your education.

Employers are looking for evidence of communication, creativity, curiosity, collaboration, cooperation and caring in the work that you have been involved in during your studies, as well as your extracurricular activities (i.e. community groups, hobbies, sport, etc).

2. Shine up your CV

Keeping your CV up to date is essential, as you never know when you may need it!

It is easy to forget what you have accomplished over a long period of time, so whenever you complete a training course, or take on more responsibilities in a current role, remember to add each accomplishment to your CV to showcase your skills and experience.

Employers will be looking for candidates who tick all the right boxes, so be sure to read the job description carefully and refer to the skills you have in your job application that fit the criteria. It is important to remember that transferable skills acquired during any activity - casual jobs, university projects or volunteer work - can be applicable to your next job application.

3. Seek trusted advice

While seeking career advice from friends or family might be a more comfortable and less confronting choice, it is important to recognise that career advisers are professionals who are trained to help you discover where your passions lie.

Seeking the advice of a career adviser over the course of your degree, or even as early during your high school years, can not only help you identify your strengths, interests and values and how they align with your job options, but establish a clear career path.

In addition to providing career advice and information, career advisers can also help in improving your employability, with services like helping you write your resume, updating your LinkedIn profile, or even teaching you how to prepare for an interview.

4. Direct your own learning

According to a study conducted by global staffing firm Robert Half, 84% of HR managers reported that their organisations are "open to hiring an employee whose skills can be developed through training".2

The ability to pick up new skills - and fast - is an essential one, with the willingness to learn new things being an important quality employers look for when hiring new employees.

As learning is a lifelong journey, taking a self-directed approach to learning highlights your dedication to growth providing you with an opportunity to stay on top of industry trends, and develop your skill set and knowledge base.

5. Spotlight your experiences

The Australian Jobs 2019 report revealed that 75% of employers require applicants to have workplace experience.3 Experience can be gained through part-time jobs, work experience placements, internships, volunteering and more.

Work experience is a great way to stand out to prospective employers, gain valuable insights about the organisation you work for, and get a feel for the industry you want to work in. No matter what kind of position you hold, you will learn skills that are vital to increasing your overall employability.

Work experience can also present some interesting and challenging opportunities that you wouldn't otherwise be exposed and which you can then use to enhance future job applications or job interviews.

6. Build your (professional) social media profile

If a potential employer searched your name to find out more about you, what would they find?

LinkedIn operates as your online resume in a format that lets you showcase your education and work achievements to both your personal network and the public.

Having an up-to-date profile and active presence on LinkedIn is a way in which you can attract potential employers, network with industry professionals and discover work opportunities to help you get ahead in your career.

7. Become a better storyteller

Never underestimate the impact of a good story that is presented with confidence.

Whether you are looking for a new job or a promotion from your current role, learning how to become a storyteller - creating a narrative that will help sell your skills accurately and effectively - is a great way to get ahead.

Being able to discuss your career experiences, highlight your skills and articulate your plans for the future in a concise and emotionally engaging way could help you land your next job, as when their emotions are engaged your listeners are more likely to recall and retain what you've said.

8. Be prepared for any type of interview

If you get through to the later stages of interviews and assessment centres in the job application process, it is important to remember that you are there because the employer has seen potential in you and wants to find out more.

Whether it's your first interview, or you're a seasoned interviewee, it is important to learn how to highlight your strengths in-person, in a phone or video interview - and updating that approach over time as you gain new skills.

As every ideal recruitment candidate knows, it is important to be prepared for an interview by doing your due diligence - researching the organisation and familiarising yourself with their company culture. Effective preparation will make you feel more in control, so that you can make a first good impression.

9. Grow your professional network

According to Jobvite's 2019 Job Seeker Survey, even though most applicants apply for jobs through a job board or employer career site, 35% find job postings via social media, nearly 50% hear about jobs from friends, and 37% say they've also learnt about jobs from professional networks.4

Finding a job isn't just about what you know, it's also about 'who' you know.

If there's a particular industry or role you are interested in, begin to broaden your network by building connections both professionally and personally along those lines.

For example, if you're curious about finance roles in the sport industry, search for and follow finance professionals in the sport industry so you can observe what they do, gain their insights and even reach out to them with questions you might have.

You can also join online groups dedicated to certain industries, participate in networking events or attend the presentations held by companies you might be interested in working for.

10. Develop a growth mindset

If you're looking to be challenged in your career, a growth mindset is a tool that you can use to develop positive habits and behaviours that can lead to success and career advancement.

Developing a growth mindset allows you to become more curious and open to learning from your experiences and mistakes, which is essential in coping with change and thriving in today's ever-changing business environment.