Thinking about your future and getting onto the career ladder can be daunting, whether you have a strong CV or not. We often worry whether we are good enough for the role or if we have the right skills and experience. But, we all have hidden strengths, skills and talents that we may not be aware of that could help secure the role of a lifetime. Are you the daredevil who is always up for a challenge? Or the one in the group who gives out great advice? All of these traits are skills that can help you get ahead of the competition. As the head of LifeSkills created with Barclays, I know what skills are valued by employers and what can be done to build your work confidence. Here are some of my top tips for making the most of talents that you may have overlooked.
Network to get work
Meeting new people can be nerve-racking, but if you've ever arrived at an event knowing no-one and left knowing everybody, then you've got a hidden skill. People say that networking is one of the most important tools in a person's repertoire and I couldn't agree more. If you're great at talking to people and making friends then you already have a lot of potential in the eyes of an employer. Using your social skills can result in building important client relations, bringing in new business and forging strong connections within teams. Make sure you show off these skills when applying for jobs. In interviews be sure to give anecdotal evidence of how your networking has benefited you in the past and demonstrate how it can be translated to the prospective job role. LifeSkills has a whole module to help you utilise your skills and make the most out of your connections and professional network.
Ready for the challenge
Are you the friend who catches the runaway spider or the sibling who has to take the blame when something goes wrong? Well you're lucky; adversity in the face of a challenging situation can be a huge asset to a business. Your office work probably doesn't reflect your ability to stare terror in the face, but it means you're great at tackling those problems that others might find tough or shy away from. Taking on the unknown shows how willing you are to go further than the rest, so run with this ability. Being brave will not only get you noticed, but showing you are up for a challenge could help you land your ideal role in the future. So don't be afraid to be the first to volunteer for the big project or speak up in meetings. By making yourself known and your ideas heard, you can really make strides in your career.
Companies need cheerleaders, too
From motivating your friend to keep going through a big project at work, we all have to support our loved ones from time to time. If you're the one that constantly receives late night calls from friends and family clamouring for support, words of wisdom or quick confidence boosts then you have the skills of an excellent morale booster. You're the person who's there to pick up the team, and keep everyone upbeat during tough times. Managers value the ability to keep the office happy, on task, achieving goals and powering through hard times. Make sure you're always thinking and speaking positively to your peers. It's all too common for one person in the office to moan and open a floodgate of everyone agreeing with them. Don't let it happen! Encourage and reassure them that they can do that work and do it well.
Present your best self
If you've experienced the horror of arriving dressed casually to a party when everyone else is dressed up to the nines, you'll know the importance of dressing for the occasion. It's tough to distinguish between 'smart casual' and 'smart', but the one person at the event who judged it perfectly will likely stick in your mind. This skill can actually be transferred to a business environment. Knowing how to dress professionally shows you know how to make a good first impression and demonstrates you can judge professional occasions and act accordingly. You may have heard it many times before, but you should dress for the job you want not the job you have, this shows your manager how serious you are about the job. Your professional judgement also reflects in your body language and mannerisms, be sure to use open and inviting gestures to make the perfect first impression. If you still feel unsure, check out the first impressions exercise on LifeSkills to learn body language hints and tips to help you get your perfect role.
Chief Executive... Organiser?
You may drive your other half insane by colour co-ordinating your wardrobe, or organising your DVDs in alphabetical order, but these meticulous organisation skills can be a real asset to a business. Your project management will shine at work if you always stay on top of administration. Any quick shortcuts you come up with or tips for keeping track and prioritising tasks can be sent around your team and applied to the whole office. I love it when my team come to me with new innovative ideas that can cut the amount of time we spend on daily admin. Have a think about efficiencies in the workplace. If you have any new processes and ideas then speak to your line manager. This will show your boss that you are using your initiative, while also highlighting your great ideas, and you never know some of these ideas may be introduced throughout the company.
For information on how young people can learn more about their skills and boost their careers, visit the LifeSkills website at www.barclayslifeskills.com