As a recent – and employed – graduate, I know both the excitement and stress that comes with being a graduate and entering the workforce.
The continuing (and often scary) process of graduates looking to enter the workforce has inspired Webucator, an online learning company with customized intstructor-led training services, to launch the “Most Marketable Skill Campaign” in honor of the class of 2014. I am honored that Webucator invited me to be a part of the campaign, asking me to share what I feel is a valuable, marketable, skill.
As I brainstormed this question, the skill that I realized helped me the most to achieve success is confidence.
Confidence does not translate to “feeling comfortable in a bikini at the beach” – confidence is about believing in your power to succeed.
There is a popular quote that says, “You can’t love someone until you love yourself.” Following that, I’m sure that every employer thinks, “You can’t hire people who wouldn’t themselves.” Whether you held five internships during college or worked a full-time job while taking night classes to pay for tuition – be confident in how you spent your time and what you learned. Here are three simple ways to be confident and sell your confidence in the job market.
1. Know your strengths
Besides for answering the common interview question – “What are your strengths?” – these are very important to know. By knowing your strengths, you will find yourself naturally incorporating them in to any conversation.
I highly suggest taking the StrengthsQuest assessment. This assessment is Gallup approved and changed my life. There are 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder themes (strengths) an individual can have, and you learn your top five! You can buy the book here, which begins by reminding you to focus on using your strengths instead of focusing on improving your weaknesses.
My top five strengths are WOO (winning others over), Positivity, Maximizer, Communication, and Strategic. The book explains all strengths in detail, including key careers and other types of people you should work with.
In interviews, I tell stories of using these strengths. I promise that if you know your strengths, you will naturally exude a contagious, positive energy (which is extra valuable in a phone interview).
2. Discover your “WHY”
There is a great TED Talk called How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek. Check out this video if you have not yet or if you need a refresher! Sinek illustrates the idea that people do not buy in to what you do, they buy into why you do it. To successfully sell your why, you should begin by applying for jobs at companies that share your similar values. Also, identify which areas in each company you would dedicate yourself to whole-heartedly.
Here is a mini test:
Which personal pitch would sound best in an interview?
a) “I have had 3 internships in digital marketing, I love social media, and I just graduated from the University of South Florida.”
b) “I am fascinated with brands and am passionate about helping them achieve their full potential within their target markets. I also have had 3 internships in digital marketing, love social media, and recently graduated from the University of South Florida.”
Hopefully you chose b – because I have used that before and am currently hired for my first post-grad job in a company I am highly dedicated to. Know your why: Self reflect on past experiences and identify which experiences brought out the best in you.
3. Do your research!
The more you know about a company and a job, the more you know where you fit in (and the more you can sell to an employer that you fit in!)
Doing your research is the most important task to do before any job interview – and you should begin the moment you submit a job application. True life: Last year, I applied for a job at an advertising agency and was surprised with a phone call the next day that turned in to a mini interview. I had not done my research yet and had to wing it – not suggested.
You are very marketable when you know about the company, job, and those interviewing you (LinkedIn does wonders). In one of my early post-grad job interviews, I had looked up an interviewer on LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn will call-out this activity, my interviewer knew. She told me, “I noticed that you checked out my LinkedIn, that is one of the best things you can do for an interview, so great job!”
During an interview, you should be able to say with confidence, “I read that article about a recent community service project your office did – employee activism is something I am looking for in a company.” That is much more marketable than asking, “does your office do any community service work?” Remember: avoid asking questions that can easily be found on the internet, and even more so the company website.
I am confident that you can be marketable with confidence! I would love to hear your thoughts on this skill – especially success stories. What do you see as a marketable skill?