In an increasingly competitive marketplace where qualifications + experience no longer equals gainful employment, it’s no secret that terms such as “job for life” and “financial stability” have become about as mythical as unicorns. While employers once criticized candidates with multiple positions on their resumes, these days the loyal long timers find themselves under scrutiny.
But while it’s arguably always been challenging for newly graduated women to get their heels on the first step of the employment ladder, it’s even harder for those who have dropped out of the labor force to get back in, for those who want to have children, or suddenly find themselves out of work. And I dare not even mention the job prospects for women over 50.
Discriminated against on so many levels and with the worst maternity leave packages on the planet, many American mothers can’t go back to work full-time and don’t want to take a part-time job that they’re over-qualified and underpaid for. After all, why should they spend their days organizing someone’s agenda, when they should be running the company?
So they stop looking. Wait it out. Try to enjoy their time at home with the kids, or their unexpectedly enforced sabbatical. But before they know it, just like Kodak stock on the NASDAQ, they’re becoming less attractive to employers; younger, smarter models are appearing on the market.
Laws change. Markets crash. Technology moves on. And overnight a situation you thought was stable, can leave you stranded on a ledge. If that happens, when it happens, you’ll be glad that you took time to work on your employability.
Sharpen Your Skills
Even if you’re a college graduate or MBA, you still need to constantly sharpen your skills. If you’re already in your thirties or forties, not only was the Internet in its infancy when you got your diploma, but back then it was actively discouraged to use online sources for your projects. You probably had to dial up and wait for a fastidiously slow connection to splutter into life; and the term “social media” was just a twinkle in young Zuckerberg’s eye.
Whatever you do, whether you’re an accountant, marketer, personal assistant, business owner, event planner, entrepreneur, teacher, or you haven’t defined it yet, you need to keep up with the latest trends; changing technology, legislation, media channels and social shifts. If you don’t know what SERP, LSI or CTA means; find out. It’s no use having a fancy degree in business if you don’t know how to send a tweet. Keep a pulse on what’s changing in your area of expertise. Take a course online, find out about Google’s latest requirements. Stay current.
Learn Something New
Whether you’re the owner of your own business or a high flying exec for a large company, you can always learn something new. And you should really make it one of your goals for 2016. It’s not too late. Have you always wanted to learn a language, for example? With the Hispanic population of the U.S. set to rise from 16% in 2010 to 30% by 2050, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that you can only increase your attractiveness to employers or investors by making this effort.
Maybe you’re a crafty person who’s never had time to try their hand at it—a stay-at-home-mom with a penchant for baby wraps, scarfs, decoupage, or wooden carvings. Or perhaps you just want to take up yoga. Whatever it is you have a hankering for, try it out. You never know where it will lead. It will look good on your resume and you could be the next famous female entrepreneur. It will also give you something to talk about at parties.
Diversify Your Assets
We’re all used to the financial concept of diversifying our stock portfolios, whether we heed the advice or not, so it’s time that you started thinking of yourself as a commodity. Don’t put all your proverbial eggs into one basket. While malevolent multinationals too numerous to name like to indoctrinate their workers on company philosophy, Hawaiian-shirt days, and team-building experiences; remember that diversification and portable skills in today’s economy are key. Participate in bowling night by all means, but remember that the glass door you came through is revolving and you need to save some of the best of you for future ventures.
Whether you’re currently thriving in your workplace or painstakingly scouring the classifieds, spread your attention a little wider. When you start to check out business blogs that interest you, it’s like an endless labyrinth of useful and inspiring information. From online courses to online jobs. Got great admin skills? Do it online. Like speaking to people? Try customer service. Write. Sell. Council. Design. Promote. You name it and I’ll bet you can do it online to add another string to your bow.
Update Your Resume
While there are few people who enjoy doing this, it’s a seriously great exercise and you should try doing it at least once a year. Don’t let your corporate calling card get rusty. Think about what you can add to your skills or goals. Have you taken up a new hobby? Have you spent time volunteering? Is your new blog or website up and running? If you’re really stuck, even changing the font and format to make sure you keep in touch with the latest version of Word is a start.
It’s important to maintain your employability as you go through your career and each of life’s stages. If you don’t do it for you, then do it for me; it’s just too frustrating to lose more intelligent, capable, brilliant, sociable women to the black hole of social injustice. Throw yourself a lifeline.