In the context of job hunting, “marketability” refers to several things. First of all, it refers to how desirable a candidate is for employment consideration; on other words, what he or she is worth as a prospective hire. Corporate employers don’t want to hire someone who can merely perform the initial job duties satisfactorily. Rather, they prefer to hire academically prepared, highly motivated, and ambitious workers who offer them a good, long-term return on their investment (ROI).

“Marketability” also denotes the flexibility a candidate enjoys in selecting suitable employment opportunities. That is to say, a highly marketable job seeker automatically has more employment options to consider. Instead of being restricted to a single career track, the individual can follow a number of different pathways to career success.

How can you make yourself more marketable?  This article discusses ten ways to increase your marketability–thus making yourself more desirable as a prospective candidate, and increasing your realistic employment options.

One: Develop a highly impressive resume.

It’s true that employers hire people, not pieces of paper. On the other hand, an impressive resume that documents evidence of academic excellence, demonstrated leadership, personal initiative and well developed social skills will definitely get the attention of corporate recruiters and hiring managers. The key is to present written credentials that depict you as a collegian who “stands out from the crowd” as an exceptionally qualified prospective hire.

One way to achieve this objective is to envision the ideal resume that you would like to present, and then fill in the gaps in terms of classroom, extracurricular and job-training experience. In other words, pretend that you are an employer reviewing your credentials. What would you expect to see that would indicate an educationally prepared and well-rounded young professional?

Here are some suggestions:  a marketable major with a strong GPA; wise selection of balanced, elective courses; extracurricular activities demonstrating leadership capability (college publications, sports, debate team, etc.); internship or co-op work experience with well-respected organizations; membership in professional student societies; and some type of community services involvement.

Your resume is your calling card. The more impressive it is, the more desirable you will be as a prospective candidate, and the more marketable you will be when pursuing employment options.

Two:  Prepare to participate in the global economy.

Smart collegians understand the importance of relating their coursework and occupational interests to the dynamics of the global economy. Working for a business of any significant size necessitates comprehending the impact and challenge of competing in the international marketplace. After all, the quiet, little shops on Main Street America depicted in Norman Rockwell paintings have been replaced with mega-corporations that have telecommunications, manufacturing and marketing outreaches around the globe, particularly in Latin America, Europe and the Pacific Rim.

There are several practical ways to prepare for participation in the global economy. For starters, become familiar with at least one of the major languages involved in international commerce:  Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, French, German or Chinese. Even one year of concentrated study in the language and culture associated with a major “player” in international business will put you head and shoulders above your peers without such knowledge.

Other ways to acquire a global perspective is to participate in multi-cultural initiatives and attend lectures, workshops and seminars on and off campus that will help you broaden your international perspective on matters that relate to your academic field. Finally, taping the endless resources of the Internet opens a window of opportunity for acquiring familiarity with the global economy.

Three:  Become technologically savvy.

Many readers may ask, “Why is this so important if my major isn’t Information Technology?”  The fact is, the rapid advancements in Information Technology affect almost every academic field and occupational profession, some more so than others. Whether you’re planning a career in health care, law, engineering, criminal justice, teaching, human sciences, the military or financial services, it is essential that you understand how technology influences your line of work. Technologically savvy employees can more easily comprehend how advances in technology enable them to perform their job duties more efficiently.

To accomplish this objective, make sure you have fundamental knowledge of computer operations, e-commerce, and software applications that relate to your academic field.
Even one or two computer and Internet-related classes as electives can significantly add to your knowledge base. Another helpful hint is to visit the library often and read professional journals in your field that have a technological slant.

Four:  Be flexible in terms of job expectations

This point cannot be overly stressed. Many bright, ambitious collegians limit their employment options by having rigid expectations associated with their first job following graduation. They have predetermined notions as to the size of the company, what their exact job title and starting salary should be, what career track they should follow, how much travel they are willing to do, where they are prepared to relocate, and so on. Unless a given employment opportunity has all the appealing ingredients they seek, they may bypass it while waiting for the “ideal job.”

Not smart. Collegians who limit themselves in this manner often see more doors shut in their face than red carpets welcoming them into the corporation. To be as marketable as possible, indicate to prospective employers that you are quite flexible on most matters related to initial employment and career advancement. The wording on your resume and cover letter — along with interview conversation — should indicate that you are open-minded in every respect concerning employment options. Maintaining such an open-minded attitude will benefit you while in college and long afterward.

Five:  Look like a winner.

Corporate recruiters and interviewers immediately zero in on whom among prospective candidates really looks like a “winner.”  Attire, grooming, posture and presentation are all critical factors in determining who looks the part as a highly desirable candidate. If you don’t fit the corporate image, it’s unlikely that you will get the hiring nod, no mater how impressive your background and qualifications appear to be.

For this reason, it pays to adopt a conservative look (regardless of your political leanings). A neat, clean-cut appearance — including meticulous grooming — will build your self-confidence and boost your chances of impressing a prospective employer. One small detail that is sometimes missed:  clean, neatly clipped (or shaped) fingernails enhance anyone’s appearance. Believe me, corporate recruiters take note of such detail.

There may be other ways to improve your image. Suggestions:  lose some weight, exercise more to tone your physique, adopt a less “ethnocentric” hair style, get rid of the multiple pierced earrings and other facial piercings, maintain a hair color that complements your complexion, and make regular visits to the dentist to enhance your “winning” smile!

To prepare for interviewing, why not suggest as birthday and Christmas gifts a new business suit- rather than the latest electronic gadgets and the like?  Developing a well-coordinated, professional wardrobe will also come in handy when you start working full-time.

Six:  Improve your interview skills.

The most marketable candidates are comfortable and confident when discussing their career interests and employment strengths. How well do you interview?  You don’t have to be a Communications major to make a favorable impression when interviewing. However, taking a few common-sense steps can effectively prepare you to sell yourself adequately over the phone and in person.

Between now and your final semester in college, learn all you can about the art of interviewing. Reading books and articles on interviewing is a convenient starting point. Attending career placement office tutorials and workshops on interviewing provides another valuable resource for self-improvement.

Perhaps the best method of fine-tuning your interview skills is to role-play with someone while being videotaped. A classmate, friend or family member can serve as the interviewer querying you on your educational preparation and career aspirations. Seeing yourself in a mock interview will provide valuable feedback regarding speaking ability, verbal content, and body language.

With practice, you will be able to smooth your verbal presentation, demonstrate nimbleness of thought, and convey through body language notable poise and self-confidence. That is exactly what employers expect to observe when culling the list of candidates to the most desirable prospective hires.

Seven: Network wisely.

Anyone familiar with the employment industry clearly understands that the best jobs are not always advertised in newspapers, journals or online – or even represented by campus recruiters. True enough, these are logical and generally helpful sources of employment information, but they do not reflect the entire gamut of professional opportunities that marketable collegians should take note of in a comprehensive job search.

Professional networking offers another important avenue for identifying the ideal job. Specifically, meeting successful professionals in your field can steer you in a helpful direction as you investigate employment opportunities. They can alert you to what’s available in the “hidden job market,” including options with which you would otherwise not be familiar.

In focusing on people who can assist in job hunting, toss out your “net” in many directions, namely:

Fellow majors in your college alumni association Persons serving in career liaison roles with professional organizations College professors and administrators who might provide job hunting leads. Family and friends working in your field of endeavor. The more people who know about your career interests – and can speak favorably of you – the more marketable you will be overall. Furthermore, as interest in hiring you increases, the more desirable you will be to other prospective employers.

Eight: Mentor with someone successful in your field.

This strategy goes beyond comprehensive networking. It is career enhancing to mentor with someone who has achieved distinction in your academic / occupational field and is willing to offer career guidance and support. Whether it is a formal or informal mentoring arrangement, you can benefit from associating with an experienced professional who can “show you the ropes” in your climb to professional accomplishment.

In particular, a well-connected mentor likely has inroads into influential professional organizations. Such inroads can benefit you in a number of ways. For instance, perhaps a mentor can sponsor your membership in one or more prestigious organizations. The contacts that you make through such association can prove helpful throughout your career development. Plus, listing these associations on your resume will enhance your written credentials and give you a bit of a competitive edge in job hunting.

Nine: Do something socially constructive.

Most major corporations, and many smaller companies, have established programs that demonstrate a commitment to socially responsible activities. In fact, investment in corporate philanthropy is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Corporate boards understand that giving back to the community increases employee morale, enhances the company’s public image, and pays dividends in terms of business growth. Furthermore, hiring managers recognize that collegians who have participated in worthwhile community service activities present a more wholesome attitude when interviewing, and also tend to be more responsible workers once hired.

What kind of socially constructive activities are available? Consider these: United Way, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, USA Freedom Corps, tutoring and literacy projects, advocacy for the homeless, community health fairs, adopt-a-grandparent projects, and so on. Admittedly, personal involvement in these kinds of activities and projects is time-consuming, but certainly beneficial for a career-minded young professional.

Ten: Dream big!

What does this have to do with becoming more marketable? All things considered, employers prefer to hire college graduates who are highly motivated and driven to succeed. Anyone can show up for work every day and do the minimum to keep his or her job. These are the “steady Eddy’s” who typically only make minimal achievements in their line of work.

By contrast, employers are impressed with candidates who are determined to “make a difference” on the job and within their profession. Not settling for mediocrity, some highly ambitious collegians have big dreams concerning their future accomplishments. Imagine interviewing someone who is determined to find a cure for AIDS or cancer, or be the first minority astronaut to land on Mars, or sit on the US Supreme Court, or design a building that wins major architectural awards, or compose a symphony that is performed by the New York Philharmonic.

Get the point? If you dream big, everyone around you will know it: professors, fellow students, and employment interviewers. Having grand ambitions and the personal drive to achieve them will definitely make you more marketable as a job seeker and dedicated professional.

Source: The Black Collegian