Having a good education isn’t enough to land you your dream job in today’s competitive job market – you need the right mix of education, experience and other softer skills – including language skills – to really stand out.
Here’s how to make yourself more competitive in the job market:
1. Improve your language skills
Learning a new language is an impressive addition to your CV. Not only does it demonstrate that you’re curious about the world, but it also shows your commitment to self-improvement and to expanding your skill set. It’s also a bankable skill with a positive correlation to higher incomes.
One of the most sought-after languages to master is English due to its global dominance and importance in global business, diplomacy and academia, but there are plenty of other ‘desired’ languages: those include Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish and German, with millions of native speakers and geopolitical and economic weight on the global stage.
2. Get cross-cultural experience
Whether it is working abroad or studying in a different country, having broader horizons and gaining experience living in a different culture is something that helps you grow as a human. You’ll have faced different challenges than if you’d stayed at home, making you more adaptable and creative in how you solve problems and approach unexpected situations – all essential skills in today’s job market.
Studies also show that people who have lived abroad are more likely to have a greater ‘sense of self’, so you’re in a better position to realize what you want from your career, and you’re likely to only apply for roles you’re genuinely interested in (read: great for employers!).
3. Complete further education
In many fields, having a university degree increases your earnings significantly and will help you land a job. Sectors like banking and finance, economics, politics and business in particular often exclusively hire university graduates for many roles. So it’s essential to find a course that’s right for you. And it’s not just the degree that you finally achieve that employers love, it’s the fact that you’ve proven that you can work hard, problem-solve and think for yourself.
Already have a university degree? Studying shouldn’t end there; doing further education (online or in person – the options today really are endless) is a great way to continue expanding your skill set.
4. Network, network, network
The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is half right: A good education and the right kind of life experience are essential, but when it comes to finding the right job opportunity (and having an “in”), it’s all about who you know. Networking, even though it may feel like a chore, is an essential part of growing your contact list.
Attend networking evenings sign yourself up for conferences and make polite, friendly chat with everyone you meet (here are more tips on how to network like a boss). Remember to stay in touch with the most interesting contacts, even if you’re not looking for a new job right now. You never know who, one day, might think you’re right for a certain job and put your name forward, or who might be able to offer you work experience.
5. Get relevant work experience
How do you get your first job, when every job requires prior skills and understanding? Secure some work experience or an internship. Do a little digging (use your network!) to find out about opportunities to intern in your chosen field. You might have to give up your time for free and work your way up from the very bottom, but getting the coffee, doing the filing or running the social media for a relevant company is the first step on the ladder.
With some work experience on your CV, you’ll make yourself more qualified for a full-time role than many other candidates who are fresh out of university. Plus, you’ll get a really good idea about whether that career path is right for you before you commit to a permanent job.