If you’re searching for a job, especially if you’re fresh out of school, it’s hard to know what your most marketable skills are. And if you don’t know, how can you fully demonstrate your value to an employer?
I realized that I was dang good at stakeholder relations, which is number 2 on this list. But I never really knew to call it that. I just thought I was good with people.
If you need to take stock of your marketable skills to become more hireable, this list will help you name and claim some of the skills you probably already have!
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1. Project Management
Although the word sounds intimidating, a lot of jobs require some aspect of project management. I’m not talking about formal project management, say managing a huge construction project, I’m really just talking about the skill that often is required for making stuff happen in the modern workplace.
Project management is big word, and it’s hard to know if it’s something you have. But chances are, if you’ve ever worked on something that has a beginning a middle and an end, you have worked on a project. If you led that project, or some element of that project, bonus points. Even more bonus points if you oversaw or were involved in budgeting for a project.
Students and new grads can look to their course work and culminating activities for project management skills. A master’s or a PhD, for example, usually it’s a project with multiple moving parts, including research, funding, reports, and more. These can be an example of project management.
If you want to upscale from this, you can lock in your project management skills with a formal certification, like a PMP.
2. Stakeholder Relations
Stakeholder relations is a highly marketable skill, that sounds way fancier than it is.
Basically, stakeholder relations is just maintaining relationships with people who are important to a company. Usually this term doesn’t refer to clients, but rather other people who might have an interest in the work your organization does.
For example, a national association that has dozens of members paying into it needs to do stakeholder relations with those members. Another fancy word for this is member relations, but the skill is usually called stakeholder relations.
Students and new grads may have developed stakeholder relations skills through their time in college or university, for example, through volunteering for an on-campus group that built relationships, or through helping organize a conference that had multiple participants.
If you have ever been involved in a project to raise money, especially in a school environment, you probably have some fundraising experience.
The skill of fundraising is important for a lot of nonprofit organizations, including universities. Within this skill, you might also consider donor relations, not unlike a stakeholder relations, which means managing relationships with people who mattered to the organization financially.
Students are often asked to make presentations, answer the phone, or just generally be present for fundraising activities. This might be something that you have done.
4. Grant Writing
Grant writing is a really transferable skill, and a lot of students have it. Especially those who have advanced degrees. I have almost never met a PhD or Master’s grad who hasn’t done some form of grant writing, and most people have won something.
This is a super marketable skill, and you can slap a number value on it too. Your grant writing might have won $10,000 or $200,000, and both are fine. Throw it on your resume.
Writing is a marketable skill, and a lot of new grads have done a lot of writing. The problem with the skill of writing is that 1. Everyone has it to some extent, and 2. It’s hard to measure how good you are.
The secret to turning your writing ability from a common skill to a marketable skill is to think about your output channels. Nearly everyone has written a paper for school, but not everyone has contributed to published journal articles or been accepted into a newspaper or writing contest. If you can show that your writing is better than the average person’s, you can use it as a competitive edge.
The other trick to turn generic writing into a marketable skill is to write different outputs. Instead of just writing “papers” in school, try your hand at writing reports or blogs. Employers need different kinds of writing, and you can use a portfolio to demonstrate your chops.
Selling is one of the oldest professions in the world, and good sales people are NEVER out of style. You might have picked up some selling experience through working a minimum wage job at the mall. You might have even had a lemonade stand or gone door to door selling chocolate bars like I did as a kid.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the world’s greatest salesperson, it does mean you’ve done it. It’s one of the most marketable skills, good salespeople can make a lot of money whether they went to school or not.
There are some great starter courses to level up your sales skills on Skillshare too! I just took this short one from Margo Aaron, a self-described “recovering academic,” and found it really great!
A lot of students I meet have some sort of coding ability– R and Python are especially common. Coding is in huge demand, and is a totally marketable skill. More and more jobs are requiring some aspect of coding, and career track jobs which require coding pay higher on average.
If you can code, make sure it’s splashed across your resume and LinkedIn. You could even link to projects you’ve built on Git Hub just to show off your chops. Indeed has a list of the most valuable coding skills.
8. Customer Service
Rounding out our list of marketable skills is customer service. Customer service is still in high demand, and the industry has changed over the past few years from being only 10% remote to +70% remote–which is great news if you want to work remotely too!
You might have developed customer service at your high school job at McDonald’s or working at the library. Any role, paid or voluntary, that required you to interact with customers, help solve their problems, and put a good face forward for the company, gave you customer service skills. And they are foundational to a lot of different careers in industries that serve customers.