As the digital world booms, it’s critical for job candidates today — and of the future — to remain competitive. Challenging market demands and rapidly changing trends mean that professionals must be smarter when it comes to building their talents and finding ways to create that competitive edge.
Here are five things you can do right now, whether you’re at school, just starting uni, looking for work or already working, that will help you stand out among competing job applicants.
1. Learn to code
As digital channels continue to dominate many industry futures, learning to code and program will ultimately become a must-have skill for job seekers.
Learning to code not only gives you a technical advantage, but it also means you can connect more easily with Big Data and make more valuable business contributions. “Getting to grips with code and understanding the structures that bring your sites, apps, and tools to life will give you a better understanding of what is possible in the first place,” says Evelyn Wolf on Hubspot.
2. Bump up your phone skills
Despite the rise of social media and other forms of communication, like texting, the value of good phone skills should not be ignored.
Candidates of the future need to show that they can communicate well verbally and hold strong conversations with everyone, from clients to stakeholders to internal managers. As Kathryn Buschmann explains, “Strong social media skills can be a resume booster… but this expertise doesn’t translate into communication skills.”
Working in a call centre can increase your phone skills rapidly, whether you’re required to sell and promote products or deal with outright difficult customers. Call centres are great places to refine your communication skills all around, as well as building other transferable talents — like the ability to reach sales targets, work in a team environment and solve tough customer issues.
3. Read daily
Regularly reading industry and business publications can also help your future career, putting you at the forefront of trends and conversations, both locally and globally. If you’re in a fast-paced industry that’s prone to changing overnight, reading is also essential. In addition to publications relevant to your industry, dig into well known papers like TechCrunch, Pando, The Economist, the New York Times, the Guardian and even Forbes — all of which are easily accessible online.
4. Attend conferences
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that conferences are only for industry experts. Attending conferences throughout your career journey can put you in front of a huge network of seasoned executives, not to mention valuable industry-changing conversations. It can show you how speakers and leaders in your field go about presenting and articulating their innovative ideas to the greater masses.
5. Be a social media advocate
If you’re going into the digital world, you won’t get far without a strong grasp of social media, how it works, and how it can play into business strategies and campaigns. Even if you’re not into social media personally, don’t make the mistake of shunning it as a professional. As a starting point, research what types of apps are driving your industry and use/get to know those. If you go for an interview and have no idea about social media in your field, you can pretty much count on a rejection.
No matter what field you’re in, don’t ignore the role that digital technologies are playing in your industry. While focussing on coding, social media and digital trends is essential, it’s important to keep up your soft skills too — like communication, knowledge and networking — in order to remain competitive. Best of luck!
The views expressed here are of the author, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them.
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