If you’re looking for a job, you’re probably acutely aware of the level of competition out there. It can be incredibly tough to find a vacancy that appeals to you, let alone to get to the stage where you’re on any kind of short list.
When there are hundreds, even thousands of people applying for the same job, how do you go about beating your competitors and crossing the line in first place? There are many factors that influence the decision-making processes undertaken by employers. Many will look for experience and qualifications, but skills and training can also play an important role.
If you’re on the hunt for a job, and you’re searching for ways to improve your employability, here are some of the most valuable practical skills to add to your arsenal.
If you’ve spent a significant period of time looking for a job, and you’ve come across hundreds of adverts, you may have noticed that some ask for a clean driver’s license. In many jobs, you won’t need to drive, but having a license can open up a raft of new opportunities.
Being able to drive makes you a more appealing candidate to employers, as you’ll be more flexible, and it’s an essential requirement for some jobs, for example, field sales, logistics and providing care in the community.
If you don’t already drive, and you’re struggling to get a job because you don’t have a license, it may be worth thinking about taking some lessons and getting some practice.
Driving can make a massive difference, not just to your job prospects, but to your ability to get yourself out there. If you’ve got a car, you can attend interviews without worrying about catching trains or relying on taxis, and you’ll have a larger pool of options and offers to choose from.
Many employers value language skills. In this day and age, companies work with partners, suppliers and clients all over the world, and they rely on people who can speak different languages to make sales, process orders, market products and provide services. If you can speak a different language or a number of languages, this is incredibly beneficial for your job search.
You’ll be able to choose from a wider range of roles, and you may also be able to work in different locations.
Your job may include travel, or there may be an option to live abroad for a period of time. If you can’t find work at home, and you’d like to go traveling for a while, using your language skills could also help you to find a job while you’re away so you can earn and explore at the same time. If you don’t already have language skills, it’s never too late to learn.
Taking language classes will enable you to develop new skills, meet new people and improve your employment prospects at the same time. The most widely spoken languages in business include English, Mandarin, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Arabic and Japanese.
First aid is an essential requirement for some roles, but it’s a valuable skill to have even if you don’t need it for work. If you have CPR and first aid certification, this could set you apart from other candidates and make you a more appealing prospect to employers.
First aid training provides you with skills that you can utilize if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re tending to somebody who has fallen ill or been involved in an accident. If you’re keen to pursue a career in working with children, for example, you can boost your employability by undertaking specialist pediatric first aid training.
First aid classes are widely available, and they’re hugely beneficial for everyone. We never know what’s going to happen when we wake up in the morning, and the skills you possess could save lives, as well as helping you land a job.
Most jobs involve using technology and computer systems. When you’re applying for jobs, do you find that you don’t have experience in using software or programs mentioned in the job description, or are you a novice when it comes to utilizing apps or spreadsheets?
If your IT skills are limited, it’s wise to undertake basic training to ensure that you don’t fall at the first hurdle and improve your chances of making it to the interview stage. Take an evening class in Excel or do a short course in using Photoshop, for example. If you’ve got certificates on your resume, this will stand you in good stead.
If you’re keen to land a management role, but you don’t have experience of leading a team, it’s worth considering adding leadership to your skill set. Attend management workshops or look into courses on conflict resolution or maintaining motivation. You don’t have to commit to months of studying or a full-time program.
Analytical skills and critical thinking
Have you ever been to an interview and come out thinking that the questions were really odd? Interviews are a chance for employers to get to know you, but they also provide an opportunity for a panel to see how you think. If you think a question is slightly bizarre, random or out there, this is probably a test of your ability to solve problems and think critically.
It’s very easy to rehearse how you’re going to answer questions like, ‘what could you offer the business?’ or ‘what are your strengths?’ but these questions don’t offer an insight into how your mind works. If you have the ability to think on your feet, identify solutions to problems, and offer a way of thinking that is different to others, this may increase your chances of getting that all-important job offer.
There isn’t a huge amount you can do in preparation for this kind of test in an interview, but make sure you take your time when you’re answering questions, and try to stay calm. Many roles require you to react under pressure, and if you can stay relaxed and think rationally, this will do your cause no harm at all.
Do you struggle with public speaking or do you lack confidence when answering questions or giving a presentation in an interview? Communication skills are highly sought-after. If you’re not brilliant at pitching, don’t worry.
There are plenty of ways you can increase your confidence and improve your ability to communicate with others. Take classes to improve your public speaking skills, practice as much as you can and try to tackle your nerves. Virtual reality programs have proven really effective for those who struggle to speak in front of large crowds.
Competition for jobs can be fierce. In some cases, when you apply for a post, you’ll be competing against hundreds of others. There are myriad skills employers look for when they’re flicking through applications and sitting in interviews.
In some cases, it’s not possible to develop or gain the kinds of skills employers are looking for through training or workshops, but often, it is possible to improve your employability. As well as skills such as time management and teamwork, employers may also search for practical skills.
You can set yourself apart from others and make your application more appealing by looking out for training opportunities, learning new languages and gaining skills that will serve you well in the world of work.
This post has been contributed by Ryan Gatt, it may contain affiliate links.