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Employability Tips – It’s a journey not a pit-stop

Posted on 8/06/2020 by Tracey George MIRP

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I was delighted to be invited as a guest speaker by the Institute of Leadership & Management, alongside other recruitment experts, to share thoughts and top tips on how to enhance your employability. This is clearly something that is high on the agenda of many people at the moment, those searching for new roles whilst still working, others potentially facing uncertainty in their current roles and those that have sadly already fallen victim to job losses due to so many organisations facing unprecedented challenges in recent months. 

It  is important to think of employability as a journey and not just something you focus on when you are seeking out a new opportunity.  I refer to it as such because it is something we should constantly be reviewing, reflecting on and it is advisable to ensure your CV and social media profiles are updated in real time too if possible.  It is increasingly important to consistently be developing yourself and your skill-set, this is all part of making sure that you are pretty much always “job-ready” and able to strike if a great opportunity presents itself or, as the case may be for many at the moment, need to secure a new role.

Contextualise your experience and skills set into the current climate or job market  

This will obviously vary to a degree depending on the sector you work in but there are undoubtedly some general trends in the current climate that are worth thinking about.  

You really do need to showcase skills that will be in demand at this time, it is easy to forget putting the most obvious skills and experience on our CV.  Currently many employers will be uncertain about how and when they will be returning to working in their offices and needless to say there will be many that are preparing for a completely new way of working, which is very likely to come in the form of remote working for part or all of the week.  As such it is particularly important to highlight if you have ever worked remotely or totally independently, for example a role that required you to work from home all or part of the time, a project that you were solely responsible for executing or perhaps you were responsible for managing some partner relationships remotely.  Being able to demonstrate such skills will go some way in giving a new employer confidence in offering you a role that may require you to work remotely or with less direct supervision that might normally have been the case. 

Other examples that help demonstrate this contextualisation process is perhaps thinking about times in the past where you have had to respond to or managed a crisis and how you went about doing this or where you needed to completely adapt processes to a new way of working which could have been as a result of new technology or a merger for example – demonstrating skills of this nature may really appeal to employers who are now starting to work towards their recovery plan following lock-down.

Think ahead to the next 6 – 12 months and ask yourself what skills are employers likely to be after and ensure you highlight this on your CV if you have that experience.

There are obviously also hard skills such as; experience of using video software like Zoom or Skype, particularly in a work capacity, or experience of running meetings, webinars or training using this software, make sure you highlight skills and experience that will evidence your ability to work in this way.

Volunteering

This is one of the most proactive ways you can improve and enhance your employability and the varied nature of volunteering means it can be beneficial to job applicants of all levels.  For example, a role assisting a charity with organising a challenge event like a run or hike will likely be more admin based but it may also expose you to higher level event management tasks and at the more senior end, a role as a trustee for an international development organisation might give you some demonstrable experience of understanding the complexities of collaborating with stakeholders across difference countries. 

Employers look favourably on voluntary experience, particularly if the role is linked in some way with the role you are applying for, however even if this is not the case, employers will be impressed with your commitment to volunteering.

As well as showcasing your skills and experience from your paid employment, you can also demonstrate that you have used these skills and competencies to help and support charities to further their cause, it shows that you are community-minded, conscientious and have a willingness to learn and develop yourself.

Our consultants at TPP reported that employers overwhelmingly look favorably on job applicants who have volunteered.  Volunteering has long been a very valuable resource for nonprofit organisations but it is becoming increasingly valued across all industries and as society continues to evolve in a more socially and environmentally aware way, particularly following a pandemic of this magnitude, I feel volunteering will be held in even higher regard in the future.

Most volunteering roles will enable you to develop entirely new skills and will expose you to information and insights that you may not otherwise have had access to and you will strengthen your community, social and professional networks too.

It is also true that many volunteers report that they develop self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of self-worth through their volunteering commitments and as I mentioned earlier this will be very attractive to employers.

It goes without saying that if you can draw on your volunteering experience in a job interview it will enhance your ability to give rich and evidence-based answers that could just make the difference when compared with other applicants.

At TPP we advertise voluntary roles for free for organisations on our website, you can view the latest volunteer opportunities here

Be reflective

Think honestly about your experience, ability, skills, personality and appetite for learning new things or simply applying your existing experience.  I have found that job-seekers who are reflective and gather feedback from others on how they are perceived, their strengths and weaknesses and those that are generally open to good constructive criticism have more self-awareness.  This self-awareness comes across to potential employers in communications with them throughout the job application process, from the cover letter right through to interviews.

Self-awareness is important because it gives us the ability to experience ourselves as unique and separate individuals, this empowers us to build on our existing strengths and make changes to improve ourselves.  This is attractive to employers.

Be  proactive

Follow up job applications, acknowledge emails sent to you, when you are communicating with prospective employers weave in research you have undertaken, common contacts you may have or knowledge and positive insights you have gathered about the organisation or brand.  Been keen and enthusiastic.

Be interview ready at all times

Ensure that you are comfortable with having to potentially attend interviews remotely and present yourself via video rather than in person.  Practice using this software regularly, gather feedback so that you can make the best possible impression of yourself via video. 

I recently completed a free course via the LinkedIn learning hub on Executive Presence via video, it was excellent, some great tips on how  to come across confidently and also avoid common mistakes and technical issues that could hinder a presentation or a video interview for example.  This is not just going to be a useful skill in the short term but most organisations will more permanently adopt video as a means of communicating both internally and externally in the future, so any form or exposure to or upskilling in this respect will be valuable.

Below is some additional advice from TPP Recruitment that will enhance your employability


TPP Consultants are available via telephone or video call to give advice on any of the above or other related career tips and insights. We work closely with our clients which enables us to  prepare you in advance of your interview and give feedback to ensure you put your best self forward to the client. Please contact the team or your Consultant on 020 7198 6000.