How to become more employable and better at your job
When I need to employ someone, I shall look at three things:
Their work experience
Qualifications, Training and Skills
Here I look at ALL and ANY training you have. There are some skills that shows me you understand the basic needs of the workplace. These skills simply make anyone better at their jobs.
Right now the skills valued across most businesses are:
Basic Computer Skills
Project Management Skills
Basic Computer Skills
In most office jobs you will have to work on a computer. You need to be able to find your emails, read them and respond to them. You need to be able to write a letter and do basic maths on a computer (meaning you must be able to use basic spreadsheets). You must be able to print the documents you create on your computer.
Your employer will train you on specific programmes that you need to use to do your job. But if you don't know the basics of using a computer, they will think they employed someone who is illiterate.
If you don't have these basic skills, then study a short course. There are many short courses available to you. Some for free, and some that you will pay for. You will find courses you can do at home (I work for www.skillsacademy.co.za – we offer home study courses). Or you can attend evening classes. Search on Google.
If you are computer illiterate now, you can change that in three months or less. And it will be the best investment you have made in your own training.
Unfortunately, the fact that you can Facebook and SMS and WhatsApp, does not mean that you have the basic computer skills needed in the workplace.
Lastly, when you apply for a job, the employer expect you to email a cover letter and CV. If you are not able to create this on a computer and email it, then you are automatically excluded from most jobs.
Project Management Skills
In the workplace you will be very valuable if you are able to manage a project from start to finish. It is one of the big challenges in business, that there are lots of plans, but they never get properly implemented.
Project Management is a area of study where you can get very specialised. When you look at the courses you can study, you will find Degrees and even higher specialised Project Management qualifications.
But you don't need a degree to become better at managing projects. You need to take the first step. Read up on project management, google it. Do a short course. Buy a book for Beginners Project Management.
If you show just the basic skills in Project Management, your employer will certainly notice you and rate you higher than people who do not have the basics of project management.
For a new manager, this is the skills that will help you make a success of your new job. You have to manage a team of people, and ensure they successfully do their jobs and complete their projects. Managing this requires specific project management skills.
This is the one skill that will quickly improve your CV, your ability to perform at work, and your future opportunities. Don't underestimate how important this skill is in the workplace today.
Unfortunately our school system do not give us people who can write well. Our universities has such a problem with students not being able to use computers and being able to write well, that all first year students now get extra classes in basic computer skills, as well in basic writing skills.
If you cannot write an email, a letter, a report or a proposal – then you have a huge disadvantage. In the workplace I cannot promote you if you can't write.
No, the fact that your friends understand you when you WhatsApp them, and laugh at your jokes on Facebook, does not mean you can write.
Writing is the most basic requirement in the world of work. So do a short course, get some help. This is the skills you use when you apply for a job. This is the skills that will feed you the rest of your life.
I get asked for advice by people who feel that they cannot apply for jobs or promotions because they do not have any qualifications. But when you ask them about their work experience, they often have years and years of experience.
In the workplace the person with five years experience, but no Matric, is more valuable than the person with a Matric Certificate, but no work experience. Yes, read that again. Slowly.
When you prepare your CV to apply for a job, don't trust yourself to be good at explaining your work experience. Get a friend to interview you. Record the interview. Then write down ALL your valuable experience.
You don't realise that we have people in South Africa who are Directors, Senior Managers and business owners... all without Matric. What they do have, is 20 or 30 years work experience. And that makes those people incredibly valuable in the workplace.
You are looking for a job or a promotion in a country with 40% unemployment. There are maaaaany people competing with you for the few jobs that are available.
If you get an interview, the thing that will make a big impression is your attitude. If you are professional and positive, that will make an impact. If you are angry; if you don't value yourself; then that is the impression you will make in the interview.
Don't give up!
About the Author:
Jan Badenhorst works as the CEO of Skills Academy. Skills Academy offers Home Study Courses to people who never completed Matric.