Before you read on, this isn’t just for job seekers, the details here are just as important for entrepreneurs and people who already have a job. Life skills are important for everyone, so make sure to keep reading. This isn’t about writing a good CV or preparing for an interview, it’s about everything that comes before then. Being employable in this article is focused on 3 areas – who you are, what you know and what you can do. Your personality, knowledge and your capability/competence.
1. Who you are
Would you hire yourself? Why? This is about your personality basically. Are you relatable? What is your attitude to work? Are you the kind that gets a job and complains? Are you willing to put in the extra work when you have a task to deliver on? Can you take criticism? Are you willing to learn? Can you think for yourself? Can you think on your feet? This isn’t about what you know or what you have done in the past, are you someone people can connect to? Are you someone people can trust? What kind of vibe do you give off? Can you communicate your ideas with other people? Are you smart? How well do you take corrections?
At this point you are probably thinking, “but I’ve never even had a job”, that might be true but every experience you have ever had comes into play here. Your class projects, assignments – do you simply copy someone else’s work without even attempting it on your own? I know we’ve all probably done this at some point but did you ever try to do something on your own before deciding to copy? Do you give things your best shot before giving up? And that’s school. What is your relationship with you family and friends like? Can they depend on you to come through for them? Are you the “go – to” guy? What do these people say about you?
All of this is relevant simply because – you are not suddenly going to become a different person when you go to apply for a job or when you have a job. No. It is these attributes you have right now that would translate into what kind of person you are when you get a job? The job environment is very simple. At some point you would have to relate with or depend on your work mates and you would need all of these attributes to help you deliver. No one wants to work with a loser or a lazy person.
Your employer is not there to give you a pay check at the end of the month. They hired you to give them results and if they cannot decipher these attributes at the point of interview or vibe them through your CV, no one is going to hire a person they don’t believe they can work with. And even if you somehow scale through and get the job. It is your personality (most importantly) that helps you keep the job. And if you are an entrepreneur, no client / buyer patronises someone with the wrong attitude. Take a pause and let this sink in.
2. What you know
No one likes an empty barrel. This is a knowledge driven era and your employer expects you to know a little bit about almost everything. And while that is peachy, they also expect you to know so much about that specific thing you claim to be good at. Even the best entrepreneurs have found their niche and have stuck to it. No excuses. And before complain about the educational system and how it has failed you, think about this; why should anyone give you a job in a role you claimed to have a BSc in but know nothing about? Then maybe you should not be applying for it in the first place. For example – if you are applying to become and you have a degree in accounting. But you claim not to know the fundamentals of accounting and choose to blame it on your lecturer for not teaching it properly while you a student – son, why apply for an accounting job if you don’t have the necessary knowledge to be and accountant anyway? Blaming your school is a sob story no one out there cares about. Not everyone had a perfect uni experience either. If schools is not doing it for you, take an extra class, learn online, talk to senior colleagues or people who have experience.
This is where the part about you going an extra mile applies. If you hate what you are studying in school, leave it and go do what you’d love to study. If you can’t leave it, then find a way to learn/practice what you do enjoy while studying. It’s completely possible and you don’t have to wait till you are done with the course you hate before you can start doing that other thing you’d rather spend your life doing. And if you do love what you do, what is the extra you are outing in to make sure you are the absolute best at it. It’s a continuous process to become an expert but are you even trying? Or are you just comfortable in the knowledge that you are where you want to be? Someone would challenge you at some point about that thing you claim to know and you have to be able to clear their doubts about your credibility 1000%. Trust me, as a business owner, entrepreneur, job seeker or someone looking to move on the career ladder, the last thing you want is your credibility being questioned. No one wants to hire you if you haven’t put in the extra work. If you can’t benefit yourself, how would you benefit other people?
But it’s still not going to be enough. Look at the world programming for example, there are so many good programmers out there. You see them at hackathons, in your office or even your classmates winning competitions. That tells you people are putting in just as much or even double the effort you are putting in to become expert at their fields. So imagine you aren’t even trying at all, what do you think your chances would be? Know your stuff more than anyone else. It’s impossible but that doesn’t mean you stop trying. So if the competition is always going to be tough, what can you do then? This brings me to the third part.
3. What you can do and what you have done
Imagine you have the 2 items listed above locked down. Now bring in your hiring manager. The educational part on your CV looks superb, but your work experience and skills look a bit lacking. Or maybe you are starting a business and you are making a pitch to an investor who can’t see any assurance to guarantee a return on his money.
Knowledge is good, but have you applied it before? If you know so much about business, have you ran a business before? If you are a tech person, have you written and app or participated in a hackathon? People are ok with you knowing something that gets you in the door. What really makes them pay attention is the things you have done prior to that time and the results you have achieved in the past that seals the deal for you. There’s no point in a medical student being able to name all of the veins in the body if he can’t close a simple wound.
Don’t mistake having experience or applying knowledge for an after school job. Look around you, there are so many opportunities to apply your knowledge these days that you just have to find one that is relevant to you. No matter how little, find a way to apply yourself to something. That experience tells your employer that you took initiative to do something for yourself. It tells them you didn’t just lazy around during school waiting to finish and get a cushy job. It tells them if push comes to shove, you are willing to put in the grind and you would get results. Take a volunteer opportunity, take up a trade, join an activity club, learn a vocation, start a business, take an extra class, teach other people what you know, sign up for a competition – every relatable and beneficial experience count.
Asides the 3 things I have mentioned, I’d like to highlight a few more before I wrap up. Ask yourself this question; are you on the right track? The job you are applying for, the career path you are in right now, the business you are running, is it really what you want to do with your life? If it is, congratulations. If it isn’t, get out of it right now. If you can’t, find a way to do the things you really want to do from now. Don’t wait till a later time. Find an alternative and find a way to make that alternative work for you. Ever heard of side jobs? Or small business? Start making little efforts and they would count for you later on as long as you are consistent. Do your research and ask the right questions. There’s no point talking about being employable if the job, business or career isn’t right for you.
Confidence, knowing you are doing the right thing and you have the right knowledge, experience gives you the confidence to apply for the right job. Anybody’s daddy’s job really. I mean even if you are turned down, it won’t be because you aren’t good enough, it would be because you are not right for the job which means you probably didn’t do your research well about that job before applying.
Preparing ahead for opportunities is one of the best things that could ever happen to a job seeker, a career person or an entrepreneur. It’s easier to put together a CV and attend interviews when you have locked down these things. So before you think about a CV or life after uni, have the right kind of preparation to get you your dream job or opportunity. Think about the gap between you and that opportunity right now and fill your life with the arsenal that can get you close to it.
Other skills you would need to have – articulation, analytical, IT, self-management, emotional intelligence, positive attitude, personal image, among many other skills.
If you have read up to this point and you have questions, leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to share.