Good news for the economy: The unemployment rate has dipped to 4.9 percent. That is an eight-year low. It means a lot of folks have gone back to work and are plugging away in new careers. It could also be an indication that the prospects for your new career path might have become more competitive. This is why you need to stay on top of your game and become a genuine marketable commodity in this job market.
Although it's important to have an up-to-date resume at the ready, there are more steps you can take that could bolster your chances of standing out in the crowd. Here are the steps you can take to stay marketable.
Step #1: Reinforce Your Name as Your Brand
What do you friends call you? Scooter? Biff? Junior? Nicknames can conjure up a lot of great memories but they have no place in your professional persona, especially when you are putting yourself out there in the business sector. This is why you need to present your name as your brand.
Don't confuse a potential employer with one name for your resume and another name for how you sign off on emails. The same goes for married names and maiden names. Be consistent and leave the nicknames for the softball league.
Speaking of emails, make sure your email account isn't a crazy name from college. Nobody is going to hire “email@example.com.”
Step #2: Stay True To Your Skill Sets
A lawyer can't operate on a heart patient any more than a surgeon can win a civil lawsuit. There is nothing wrong with wanting to branch out, but you can't wander too far off the trail.
A potential employer wants to know you'll be a perfect fit for their open position. They don't want a lot of on-the-job training to happen. That is not to say you can't move from one industry to the other. You just have to make sure your strong skill sets are what you lead with. A good manager will be a good manager in any sector. Open with that.
Step #3: Be Professional Online
Anyone with an online profile is an open book. Your first introduction to a potential employer could be through a quality LinkedIn profile, always a good place to start. However, your employer might not stop with that single profile. Depending on the position, you might want to see how you “show up” in other areas. This is why it might be time to go through your Facebook profile and rethink all those “super awesome party pics.”
As long as you've got your LinkedIn profile up and running, be sure to reach out to that community of like-minded professionals. There are plenty of industry blogs and community forums you can start making a substantial contribution to. Remember, this isn't about discussing politics or religion. Stay focused on your chosen field and how you can contribute to others in the same industry. Your new boss would like to read about that.
Step: #4: Broaden Your Network
Are you a member of a professional association that is affiliated with your industry? Do you regularly attend tradeshows? Are there local organizations that are part of the chamber of commerce you can get involved with? These are the ways you can broaden your network.
You might be extremely qualified for a particular position, but that position isn't going to walk up and knock on your door. You have to be out there meeting the people who can have an impact on your business future. It might not be an immediate payback, but getting in front of those decision makers can pay off down the road.
Step #5: Learn Something New
You can enhance your marketability whenever you can expand your resume. That isn't restricted to a new job but a new skill. If your field requires additional certifications, then by all means get those under your belt. Perhaps there is a new piece of technology you can become proficient at. Even taking a second language course can broaden your hiring potential. Just don't pick an obscure language such as Klingon.
Learning something new can also happen in your current position. Perhaps there is a project you can take on that is outside your field of expertise. You should always be on the lookout for any opportunity to add to your resume.
On many levels, looking for a new job is a career unto itself. As long as you stay proactive about your marketability, you'll be ahead of the curve.