When you’re competing for jobs, employability is a key factor. You have to be job ready with the hard and soft skills employers want. Even if you have been in the workplace for some time and are looking for a change or advancement at your current company, having the right foundational skills and being able to demonstrate job readiness could be the factor that makes you stand out from the other applicants.
Job readiness is more important than ever in today’s business environment. Competition is fierce and employers have become less willing to invest in employee training because it is not cost-effective. Training employees can be expensive and employee turnover reduces return on investment. With the help of online career resources, it is easier to find job applicants who already have the exact skill-sets needed—in other words, candidates who are job ready.
Employers also have come to understand that there is little correlation between having a college degree and being qualified for a job. A college degree may show a candidate’s ability to study, but it is not an indicator of intelligence or the ability to reason, learn and solve problems. Having job-ready skills is a better indication of your abilities. If you can present the right qualifications and certifications, you substantially increase your chances of being hired.
What ‘Job Ready’ Means
Job readiness is essentially having the skills and capabilities that an employer is seeking so you can step into a job with little or no support. However, being job ready means different things to different employers. Some will focus on previous experience, while others will look for specific skill-sets or certifications. Whatever the criteria, you need to be prepared.
Start by doing your homework. Review the list of qualifications for the job you want and see how many boxes you can honestly check. Then inventory your skills that most closely match the job requirements. Don’t forget to include those skills that every employer wants in a job-ready candidate.
When assessing how your skills might make you more employable, remember that job skills include interpersonal skills, critical thinking and personal qualities, in addition to practical knowledge. The U.S. Department of Education developed an Employability Skills Framework that shows how effective relationships, applied knowledge and workplace skills balance one another:
- Effective relationships require soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, self-discipline and integrity.
- Applied knowledge includes acquired skills such as critical thinking, writing, problem-solving and organizational skills.
- Workplace skills are often what employers consider first when they look for job readiness. These include management skills, understanding business processes and mastering specific technologies.
To demonstrate true job readiness, you also have to present your professional experience, including both past jobs and formal training and certifications. Career training can help you fill gaps in your expertise and earn the credentials you need to become job ready.
Practical Examples of Job Readiness
Office manager: An office manager is typically responsible for administrative functions, including maintaining digital files, managing office supplies and equipment, facilities planning and more. To be job ready, this role requires a variety of skills:
- Interpersonal skills such as effective communication and reliability
- Practical skills such as computer literacy and proficiency with business software, including Microsoft Office
- Certifications such as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), administrative services managers can earn more than $96,000 per year—more with the right certifications.
Security analyst: Cybersecurity is a growing field, and a security analyst is responsible for protecting computer systems and databases from hackers and other security threats. The job requires an extensive knowledge of hardware, software and computer networking, as well as the basics of cryptography, security policies, security monitoring and network troubleshooting. A security analyst role requires:
- Interpersonal skills such as leadership, collaboration and teamwork
- Practical skills such as administering public key infrastructure (PKI), penetration testing and network maintenance
- Certifications such as CompTIA Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), among others
The industry outlook for cybersecurity experts is especially rosy, with a projected growth rate of 28 percent and a median salary of $98,350 per year, according to the BLS.
Project manager: Project management is a career that spans almost all industries. It requires you to initiate and manage IT projects, including resources, staff and budgets. To be job ready as a project manager requires:
- Interpersonal skills such as leadership and collaboration
- Practical skills such as project planning, business analysis, workflow analysis and performance monitoring
- Certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) and, ideally, Lean Six Sigma certifications as well
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), demand for project managers is expected to grow 33 percent by 2027, adding 22 million jobs.
So how do you ensure that you are job ready? Start by taking a hard look at your current skills and where you want to apply them. What career do you want, or where do you want to go in your current profession? Then take a hard look at your soft skills and your technical experience and make a list. Are there gaps in your experience or expertise that prevent you from being job ready?
Consider career training in your field to expand your expertise and earn credentials that will make you more attractive to employers. Package your expertise so you stand out.
New Horizons Career Development Solutions can help you become job ready. Talk to our career counselors about your goals and career objectives. They can guide you with insight into the gaps in your credentials and the best way to fill them. Armed with the right credentials, you can boost your employability and find a challenging job that sets you on the path to a rewarding career.