How to Make Yourself More Marketable

Rumor has it that once upon a time finding a job was about picking the company for which you most wanted to work. That’s what my parents say, anyway. Today we job seekers are facing the exact opposite scenario. Instead of companies trying to woo us, we’re tripping all over ourselves trying to prove that we’re the best in our respective fields. It’s like the ultimate cage death match of employment—we’re looking for anything that will give us an edge over everybody else.

Today, if you want to find a job, you need to make yourself as attractive to a company as possible. Here are some of the things that you can do to gain that edge over your fellow competitors, er, job seekers.

1. Stay in School

Some say that the Bachelor’s Degree is the new High School Diploma. If you have the chance to but you’ve been struggling over whether or not to go to grad school, know this: having your Masters makes you almost universally more employable and at a higher rate. You can up your ante here by going to grad school in a field that is different than the field in which you got your Bachelor’s degree.

In addition to going after a different degree, you can increase your marketability by attending a different school and even more so if that new school is in a different city or state. Seek out the school that is best for you based on the degree you’re trying to get, not the school that is convenient to you. For example, perhaps you’re finishing up your undergrad in nursing at UT Austin. Why not shake up your experience by looking for grad programs in business in New England? There are tons of programs in Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

It’s okay if you don’t yet have the money to move, particularly to a place that is known for high living costs like New York or Boston. Cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are havens for grad students and people working with limited budgets. Remember too, grad schools are more flexible than most undergrad programs. You can even attend online grad programs now, which means that you can take advantage of graduate programs in Philadelphia even if you still live in Austin—you can get your grad degree started while saving up to move to the city proper.

This helps with a couple of things: one it shows that you’re willing to go where the best opportunities are (aka “willing to relocate”) and it helps you build contacts in a new city even before you get there.

2. Work on Your Communication Skills

In a recent article for The Times Union, employers in Upstate New York lamented the lack of communication skills in their recent crops of applicants. This is particularly prevalent in fields like engineering where interpersonal communication and the ability to express one’s self properly and professionally isn’t a top priority in course curriculum.

When you’re trying to find a job, the onus is on you to make sure that you are understood, not on your potential employer to try to read between your lines. If you’ve never taken a basic writing or public speaking course, now is the time to do it. It will help you learn how to communicate properly and can even add some juice to your resume.

3. Embrace Social Media

It’s time to accept that your online reputation is going to be a factor in your “hireability”. It’s just a fact that goes along with living in the twenty first century. The good news is that for the most part, you can control what your potential employer finds. This means you get to play both offense and defense.

First, the defense: make sure all of your profile privacy settings are turned all the way up. Remove any tags to photos or posts that might seem unprofessional or unseemly. Ask your friends and family members to refrain from tagging you without first asking your permission.

Now the offense: if you don’t have social media profiles set up on portals like LinkedIn and Google+, now is the time to create them. While most people know how beneficial LinkedIn can be to the employment process, Google+ is still relatively new. Still, according to the Huffington Post, it’s becoming a front runner for helping employers to find you instead of you having to scramble after them.

These are just three of the things that you can do to set yourself apart from your fellow job seekers. Do you have any tips or tricks you want to share? How did you land your current position? Share it with us by commenting below or tweeting @mscareergirl

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.