It is one thing to be employed and have a job. Making yourself employable is a completely different story.  Employability means making yourself ready for the next move before you are ready to move.  It means making sure that you have filled any skills gaps for your next move.  It means ensuring you understand all pieces of your next role before it comes across your path.  Employability is how you make yourself available for not only upward but lateral moves within your organization.  It is what makes you ready for any shifts in the employment market.  It is what helps you navigate your career path.

Employability is not a onetime task.  It is a life-long process.  It is a commitment to yourself to ensure you are able to get to where you want to go.  So, how do you get there?

  1. Think about where you want to go. If you are unsure, do thorough research.  Talk to as many people as you can think of in your network about your goals.  Do this continually throughout your career.  Learn as much as you can about any future role.  This is called informational interviewing.  Learn more through this interactive tutorial.
  2. Once you know what you would like your next step to be, let your interests be known by you manager (if you are comfortable), leadership within your organization, and with your network. They can provide additional tips and also let you know of potential opportunities to keep your eye on.  It is not always clear on what all of your options might be – so their feedback is critical.  Make sure to ask for advice and feedback at every turn.  Be open to the feedback, and use it to model your development.
  3. Continue conversations throughout your career.
  4. Job skill sets aside, employability skillsets include resilience, perseverance, adaptability, and a positive attitude. Research has shown that these traits have a positive impact on one’s employability.

While this seems simple as I write it, it is complex and takes a great deal of thought, time, and commitment.  You need to be a constant sponge.  Always look to what is happening within your organization, who the decision makers are, and where you might fit.  You need to be willing to ask questions and understand the bigger picture.  You need to understand the needs of your organization.  You need to know what skills you need to have, and then refine them accordingly.

People are generally happy to talk about what they do, and it can sometimes be surprising how few people actually reach out to others.  Be the person who reaches out and asks for advice and information.  See how you can become involved on special projects.  While some conversations end quickly, you never know which conversation is going to set you up for your next role.

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