Are You Work-Ready? Bolster Your Skillset with this Complete Guide
Whether you are an active job seeker or just open to opportunities, being work-ready is a must. In the wake of COVID disruption, candidate volumes have risen across the board. In southeast Asia, the pandemic has caused spikes in unemployment rates and loss of informal work. The best way to stand out in the application process is to be proactive with your preparation so that when opportunity knocks you answer the door cool, calm, and collected — and not flustered in a bathrobe.
Work-readiness is easier said than done, it takes commitment to your own development. Back in school, that looked like completing a class, getting a grade, and moving on to the next course. In the real world, development is not so concrete or guaranteed. You can’t rely on grades and curriculums to propel your career. It’s something you must foster independently.
However, ‘independently’ doesn’t mean all on your own. You may feel lost as to where to begin or how to prioritize. That’s normal. This guide will help you evaluate and mature your work-readiness with actionable to-dos so you can enter 2021 with one resolution already checked-off.
What does it mean to be work-ready?
Work-ready means any hiring manager who looked at your resume would have zero doubt about your qualifications for the position. To accomplish this you need to deliver in three key areas...
- Knowledge: You know what skills/qualities relevant employers are seeking.
- Experience: You demonstrate competency in those qualities/skills through training/experience.
- Presentation: You know how to present your competencies in the recruitment process.
Why you need to be work-ready
When you look back a year from now, don’t you want to see new skills learned and new achievements won? Being work-ready is an important component of a rewarding career. It means developing and demonstrating the skills and qualities that are sought after and valued in your industry. With these competencies, you will be a more desirable candidate for the roles you want (imagine, choosing between offers instead of praying for a single one) and you can have a bigger impact in the job that you take.
Now that we understand the three components of work-readiness, let’s go in-depth into how you can deliver in these key areas.
- Mine your network: Find people with connections in your industry and ask them what they look for in candidates and what skills gaps they see. You can post on your social networks and ask friends or family. You’ll be surprised how happy people are to help.
- Join a community: Look for relevant Facebook or LinkedIn groups for your industry. Post about the questions you have and see what professionals in your field are talking about. People will often post opportunities (even job postings) in these spaces so it’s a win-win.
- Find your medium: Do you like listening to podcasts on the way to work or reading articles at lunch? Maybe you are a Twitter scroller or a newsletter lover. Whatever medium you enjoy, find influencers in your industry and follow them. You’ll learn a lot from their content and are more likely to engage when it’s a medium you enjoy.
- Identify Wins: You understand what skills are relevant for your dream job and now you want to identify times when you have demonstrated these competencies. This could be a project, presentation, filing system, communication protocol, process overhaul, etc.
- Continue to develop: Now you know which competencies of which you can demonstrate mastery, it’s time to see which skills you lack. Dedicate time to learning that skill through training, there are many free, low-cost, or subsidized trainings that offer certifications at the end. Ask your industry community for recommendations.
- Look to the future: To truly be work-ready, you need to looking ahead to the skill needs of tomorrow. This is where the media about your industry will inform you. If you know that your industry will be experiencing a digital transformation, why not learn the relevant skills now to stay ahead of the curve?
- Strengthen CV & Cover Letter: Your CV/Resume should be more than a list of jobs, it should highlight the relevant wins that you identified above. Keep it to one page with only relevant positons, bullet points are great to highlight important achievements. You’ll want to tailor your resume/CV and cover letter to each position using keywords from the job ad in order to be surfaced.
- Boost Your LinkedIn: Create a headline that describes your ideal position. Example: ‘Expert Tech Marketer’ or ‘HR specialist connecting people and companies.’ Fill in your bio and work history and add relevant skills. Ask your network to endorse your competencies, you can even suggest an endorsement swap on your online community page. Follow people in your industry and always include a note with your invitation, even a simple ‘Hi, I’m looking to make more connections in the industry and your profile looked interesting’ will suffice.
- Impress in Person: With hiring nowadays, a lot happens online. Even many interviews are remote—however, there will still be a stage where you talk to a human and you need to be prepared. Read about the company, know their mission, and how you would connect to it in your role. Ask your online community what interview questions they’ve experienced. See if a friend/mentor/colleague/family member to practice with you. Relax and have a good time, if you’ve taken all these preparation steps then you are ready! You won’t always get the job, but every interview is an opportunity for growth. Make sure to reach out after with a thank you email.
We’ve discussed why being work-ready is so important and how to bolster your preparedness. One crucial element is self-reflection. Is there anything in your resume or background that could be derailing your job hunt? There’s almost nothing that is a dealbreaker if you address it, but you have to be aware of it first.
Many companies run background checks surfacing info about your credit history, civil history, and or driving history. It’s important to look at the full history you are bringing to the table, not just the jobs or education you’ve had. So, beyond prepping for skills tests be ready to speak to any negative information that may surface in a background screening.
A wise person once said luck is where preparation and opportunity meet and we couldn’t agree more. Take charge of your career goals with a job-readiness plan that works for you!
- INTRO - What does it mean to be job-ready? Why it’s even more important right now.
- P1 - So how can I best prepare myself - CV and online profiles (LinkedIn etc) up to date Highlight skills as easily as possible so they are easily identifiable, work experience is up to date and detailed highlighting key wins or big achievements. (Personal brand?)
- P2 - Developing key skills - what employers are generally looking for, online training opportunities, developing key job readiness skills or those relevant to the industry you want to go into
- P3 - Be prepared - familiarise yourself with the recruitment process, can you prepare for any online tests, interview prep - who can you practice with, background check prep
- Conclusion - Being job/work ready and preparing xxx will help boost your employability…
- Links - https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/bca/pages/4101/attachments/original/1527731958/Being_Work_Ready_Guide.pdf?1527731958