By Marty Silberstein, for Yahoo! HotJobs
How marketable are you? Are you using a sound career strategy to keep fit for today's fluctuating marketplace?
Whether you're looking for work or want to hold on to the job you have, maintaining your marketability for the long term requires that you continually invest in yourself. You are the product you're selling, but you must be proactive to remain competitive. Here are five ingredients for a winning strategy: work that serves your goals, lifelong learning, staying current with your skills and industry knowledge, networking and maintaining balance.
Use this checklist to test your marketability. If you find any areas wanting, use your answers to create an action plan to improve them.
My Current Employment Serves My Goals
Measure your current or prospective situation against short- and long-term goals. Aside from financial reward, do you gain in these ways:
Tip: Maximize your experience by looking for opportunities to increase your value within your company.
- Do my responsibilities sync with my strongest capabilities?
- Am I developing relevant skills and meeting the right people?
- Is there room to grow? Or is this a good stepping-stone?
My Education, Certification and Training are Current
Lifelong learning is the key to staying marketable. Prepare for varied options.
Tip: To find programs, start with local educational institutions. Explore CareerOneStop, a site rich in resources for job seekers.
- Do I need a degree or certification to keep up with my present employment, get promoted or land a new job?
- Do I regularly attend professional association meetings, workshops, seminars, and continuing-education classes?
My Skills and Industry Knowledge are Up to Date
Staying current is a prerequisite for ongoing employment. Could you qualify for an equivalent position with a competitor -- or do you readily qualify for the upgrade you seek? If not, what do you need to do?
Tip: Check current requirements by reading employer posts on job boards, such as Monster.com, and company sites.
- Am I technically proficient in the latest software?
- Do I know my industry's trends and major players?
- Do I read trade publications and industry blogs? Join discussion groups?
My Networking and Communication Activities are Constant
Strategic networking helps cultivate mutually beneficial business relationships. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful tool to gain opportunities and referrals.
Tip: Networking is about quality, not quantity. It's about being a helpful resource, a relationship builder.
- Do I routinely develop new contacts, nurture existing ones?
- Do I meet in person with people most important to me rather than relying on email threads?
- Do I make weekly connections through online groups and social networking (BeKnown, LinkedIn)?
My Life and Work are in Balance
Long-term marketability relies on a healthy balance between life and work -- emotionally, physically, intellectually, financially and spiritually.
Tip: Difficult to do, but maintaining balance and perspective are key to surviving and thriving.
- Do I follow sound self-care practices?
- Do I give equal attention to relationships and work?
How did you do? Is there room for improvement? Follow up with an action plan targeting areas you find wanting. Set short- and long-term goals with specific tasks and a timeline to get you there. Managing your career proactively will keep you marketable: Your livelihood depends on it.
[Copyright 2009 Marty Silberstein, owner of Night Owl Companion Publishing, resources that help with "the stuff that keeps you up at night," including finding your right work, how to do a strategic job search and how to reenter the workplace.]