New Year’s Resolutions: Improving your skills to compete in the job market

You are essentially competing with the best when job hunting and it is increasingly critical that you work towards improving your best self in 2018 to stand above the rest.

Here are 4 areas you can work on to improve:

Learn a new skill

Teams are getting leaner and leaner these days, and that usually calls for existing employees to perform a broader range of tasks. Without spreading yourself too thin, it’s important to make an effort to acquire multiple skills either related to your area of expertise or even outside of your comfort zone.

Learning a foreign language (using sites like Busuu and apps like Duolingo) can increase your appeal and boost your chances at landing a job.

Sites like Coursera and Edx offer courses in various fields from overseas universities. Most of them require a couple hours of study/online lectures per week and the majority are free.

Assess your soft skills

Soft skills such as communication skills, time management and organisational skills are cross-cutting and thus, valuable to all fields. Take a look at those areas you might need to work on and develop further

Are you in the habit of missing deadlines and arriving a little late? Is your desk a mess and in need of a more efficient filing system to keep things in check? Are you unfamiliar with where to find things in Microsoft Office applications after a software update? Look at these areas and seek ways to improve on one or two early this year.

Brand revamping

Companies, products and services have a brand–a reputation, a set of mental ideas that it’s known for. You also have a brand of your own, which you’re very much in control of crafting and rebuilding.

What are some of your strengths, or top selling points? What about your more glaring weaknesses? How can you compensate for them, or improve them altogether? Would you like to shift attention to another one of your skills or is there something about your overall profile that you’d like to communicate differently to your colleagues, superiors or prospective employers?

Speak to former and existing colleagues, superiors and even close friends to get an idea of how you can improve your brand. Consider having a LinkedIn page or a website as a start.

Networking

The world is already so small, but when it comes to making linkages that can help us in our work life, it’s our job to make it even smaller.

Mingling with persons in your field, and even with those who are in similar or even entirely different fields from yours never hurts.

Partnerships, jobs, internships along with several other opportunities can come from effective networking. Even simply having other friendly faces that you recognise in your field can be helpful and can lead to something much more fruitful months or years down the line.

The funny thing about networking is that it’s spontaneous. It isn’t only done at snazzy industry meet-and-greets; good liaisons can develop in church groups, social groups, sports teams, through social media and charitable volunteering.