Build Your Employability Tool Kit
Category : Careers
Employability refers to your capability for gaining and maintaining employment. Each of us carries with us our very own “employability tool kit.” It contains all of the skills, knowledge, and competencies we’ve developed over time. No one can take away your kit; it’s yours forever. What does your employability tool kit look like? Do you know what’s in your kit? Does it contain new skills, knowledge and competencies? What are you doing to increase the content and value of your employability tool kit?
A Very Important Point: The key to your personal development, success and employability, is to continue putting more “value-added and relevant” competencies into your kit. The more updated and relevant competencies you add to your employability tool kit, the more valuable you become to others and…the more employable you become.
Ten Tips for building your personal employability tool kit
- Know where you are in your career. Are you still in school and have not made a career choice? Have you been in your job a short time and having success or performance issues? Have you been in a job a long time, truly mastered the job and are now ready for new challenges? Are you in a “sunset job” and need to change because it will soon go away? You need to focus on where you are so you can more effectively evaluate what specific competencies you need to quickly learn and add to your employability tool kit. Where are you now?
- Take an inventory of your employability skills, knowledge and competencies. What specific strengths do you have? What relevant skills do you currently possess? What skills do you feel you are an expert at doing? What competencies do you possess that set you apart from your competition? What do you feel naturally good at doing? In what role or in what situation are you operating at your best?
- Take the initiative to make sure you are clear on what direction you want to take in your career. Spend more time planning your career than you do planning your vacation. What needs, desires, dreams, and short-term/long-term career goals do you have? What are you passionate about doing? What career will get you excited about getting out of bed Monday mornings? What future trends are you most curious about? What career would you choose if money was no object? Write answers to these and other career related questions. This will help you decide what skills and competencies you will need to develop for your tool kit. Only you can effectively plan your career and… if you don’t plan a career, the wrong one will happen to you or you won’t have one at all.
- You need to honestly evaluate your choices and options. Does your desired career require a degree, but your scholastic track record or finances preclude you from entering a college program at this time? Do you have a strong interest in a highly technical field because it pays well, but you are not naturally a technical person and your true passion is working with or helping people? What short-term training can you afford? It is important to be realistic as you build your employability tool kit. Honestly evaluate your choices!
- Understand future job and career requirements. If you are a student or unemployed, seek out information on what are the new or hot jobs and obtain skills that can be used in those careers. If you are employed, make sure you know where your company is going, what it needs, and what competencies are required to support those needs. Curiosity and career planning go hand-in-hand. What are the requirements of the career you have chosen?
- Knowledge of the business is a key requirement for developing your tool kit. If you are a student visit a business you think you may be interested in. Try to get an internship during or between semesters. If employed, learn how other departments, divisions, or business units contribute to the business and bottom line. Search out and volunteer for new projects where you can learn new competencies that add value to your employability tool kit. Talk to people who are already doing what you believe to be your career choice. They are the best source of information about what skills, knowledge and competencies you will need for that career.
- Focus on tasks, not positions. Make sure you focus on learning tasks, which will enhance your tool kit and career, not the positions you want to be promoted to. Positions identified as crucial today may be gone tomorrow. Positions can be eliminated, but the skills, knowledge and competencies you have acquired will last a lifetime. What tasks do you need to learn?
- Make sure any class you attend is tied to your career plan. Invest your training and education dollars wisely. Make sure the skills taught in the class match a specific employability purpose. Think about how new training and certification will add value to your tool kit and plan for how and when you’ll practice and build your new competencies. Training imparts knowledge and understanding, but action builds competence. What have you done to align class subjects with your career plan?
- Network, network, network! Set up networks, because that is how you learn about what is going on in the world around you. Join and get involved in professional organizations and volunteer in nonprofit organizations. The rewards will be great. You will learn what’s hot and what’s not. You will learn about new careers and what new tools you will need to acquire to stay employable. What have you done to network?
- Finally, always keep your résumé updated and write it as a “marketing tool.” Your résumé normally does not get you a job, but it is excellent to use as a marketing tool and a good place to update your “employability value.” List the benefits you will bring to their organization. Employers are interested in what you have done, but they are more interested in what you will do for them. Use your résumé to market your performance, results and the “benefits” of hiring you! What have you done to make your résumé a marketing tool?
Caution: Do not rely on others for your employability! Take on the responsibility to manage your own career. Avoid activity-based (busy) work. Being or looking busy does not guarantee your employment. Seek out jobs, projects and positions, which are outcome-based. Concentrate on specific, measurable and relevant jobs, which impact the goals of an organization. They will provide you the best chance of staying employed or getting employment.