1. Communication skills: Strong communication and interpersonal skills are essential, including the ability to work closely with a variety of stakeholders within, and outside, your department.
2. Technology expertise: It’s critical to stay up-to-date on the latest technological innovations. Being able to maximise the use of new technology not only makes your job easier but also increases your value to a potential employer. If you need to learn how to make best use of a new application, consider taking a computer or software class through a college or university programme, or participate in a local software users’ group for the product you would like to learn more about.
3. Global perspective: There’s a strong demand for certain professionals (such as accountants and IT specialists) with international business skills. Indeed, organisations are seeking professionals who are not only familiar with global trends, but possess an understanding of practices in other countries. For example, in the accounting field, many firms have for some time been interested in hiring those with expertise in International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to meet new industry regulations.
4. Never stop learning: Continuing to build your professional skills and knowledge is a key way to increase your marketability. How? Businesses actively recruit candidates who’ve taken the initiative to further their education, from obtaining an MBA to pursuing a relevant regional certification program. And here’s another bonus to additional education: research from Robert Half shows that a graduate degree or professional certification can increase your starting salary in a new job by up to 10 percent.
5. Recharge your network: That next big break might come from your network. To evaluate how active your own contact list is, ask yourself when the last time was that a colleague or industry peer asked you for advice or information. If nothing comes to mind, it may be time to recharge your network. One key tip is to pick up the phone. Call one of your contacts and invite him or her to lunch; face-to-face meetings can do a lot to build your future efforts. And if you’re worried about lay-offs, networking becomes essential. Now is the time to reactivate your network. Attend industry events, update your LinkedIn profile, and get in touch with recruiters who can give you a sense of the job market and keep an eye out for you.
A final piece of advice: You’ll have a hard time achieving your full potential unless others are aware of your expertise and accomplishments. Pursuing new challenges, such as volunteering to participate on special project teams – particularly those that save the company time or money – will help you steadily build visibility and better position you for future advancement opportunities.