Career Resources Key elements to making yourself marketable

Let’s be honest, looking for a job these days basically can be as enjoyable as getting your wisdom teeth pulled. However, if you take appropriate steps and understand what you’re getting yourself into, it can actually be a very pleasant experience. The most marketable candidates should be able to benefit from several interviews and offers (yes, even in a tough economy) if they so choose. Here are several key elements one must analyze before embarking in their career search, if they expect to be the most sought after talent.

Know what you want out of life
Everything is predicated to the answer of this question. Do you know what you’re looking for? Money vs. job satisfaction, management vs. individual contributor, long hours vs. short hours, travel, relocation, or any other criteria that particularly drives you? Take the time to clearly identify all of the important elements for you in life, and this will help you drive forward with your career objectives.

Understand your strengths…and your weaknesses
Take the time to clearly examine “what you bring to the table.” Whether it’s your leadership skills, team player ability, or your talent for taking out the trash, make sure you can honestly identify what you think allows you to stand-out amongst other candidates. I know it seems risky to “pigeon-hole” yourself to any particular position, however the top candidates always know what they want to do, and what they offer.  Not to mention, they also know what areas they need to improve in.  Top candidates are always thinking of ways to improve themselves and they are not unwilling to discuss WHAT needs improvement.

Put together a well-organized resume
It’s a common misconception for people to assume you should explain your entire career on one-page. The reality is that if you can explain your objectives, goals, work experience, products developed, education, certifications and technical capabilities only on one page, I’d still be scratching my head as to what you really specialize in. Make your resume as long as you need to explain your background, and be thorough. Your resume should be clean, well-formatted, and use a style that facilitates quick review.

Stay technically current
At the end of the day, the huge deciding factor will eventually come down to what you know technically. No matter what your business trade is, I can’t say enough about how imperative it is to stay on top of the latest market trends of your industry. Be relentless in becoming an expert in your industry. Seek out work projects offering diverse learning opportunities which will broaden your value. Take advantage of training opportunities, though there is no substitute for being exposed to new or current technologies on the job.

Leave your ego at the door
In addition to technical capabilities, the most critical factor a prospective company looks for when hiring someone is their ability to be an effective team player. I would strongly encourage you to leave the “Prima Donna” attitude at the door. Nobody wants to be known as that great talent who could never get hired. If you hear phrases like, “I’d love to have him on the team, but…”; “he’s a great programmer, but…” Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your approach.

Contacts, contacts, contacts
The amount of contacts you stay networked with can frequently be the difference between you being exposed to your next dream job, or standing in the unemployment line. Seek out formal networking opportunities, and don’t be afraid to push yourself to meet people. Don’t EVER burn a bridge. Portland is a small town and you never know when you will run into someone again. The person who works for you now, might become your boss at your next company. Developing a support network of others is always easier than dealing with struggling relationships. In addition, be open to contact by recruiters. Taking the time to speak with a headhunter, even if you don’t need them, could pay huge dividends in the future.

Rock-solid references
Doing that up front leg work of obtaining and pre-qualifying a list of strong references can provide huge credibility. If obtained properly, you should provide a list of at least two supervisors and two peers, and be proud to present your references as early as possible. Discuss openly your career plan with your references to ensure the best possible feedback to future employers. A list of strong references can make or break you receiving an offer.

Learn how to communicate effectively
If there is one common theme throughout highly marketable candidates, it is their ability to communicate effectively. If you have the ability to communicate to multiple layers of an organization, such as sales and marketing, engineering, and management, you’ll find yourself to be a centerpiece of your company or division. Seek out opportunities to do formal presentations, and build your confidence. In addition, you should work in team environments and get training in managerial techniques.

Do your homework
If you want to separate yourself from the pack, take the time to investigate the company you’re pursuing. You can study their Web site, find recent press releases, investigate the industry, examine potential competitors, as well as simply ask around your network if someone has previously worked with the company. Walking into an interview with this knowledge will provide you with the “wow factor” interviewers are looking for.

EdgeLink is a boutique staffing firm based in Portland, OR that specializes in technology placement. We develop close, long-term relationships with proven and promising technology companies that value strong ethics, integrity, and a winning attitude. These partnerships provide solid opportunities for talented individuals seeking the next step in their careers.