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3 Skills to Boost Your Worth in the Job Market

In our last post, we listed ways to increase job seeker marketability. We rushed through the “new skills” section, which is such a shame. I’m back to rectify that. We’ve compiled a new list—we’re big fans of lists around here—of 3 skills to increase marketability. Without further ado, here’s our list:

1. Foreign Languages

In the age of Globalism, many companies have offices in more than one country. If the company doesn’t have an office in a different country, odds are, the company has foreign business affiliates or outsources to an organization off-shore.  Even the smallest businesses deal with customers speaking languages other than English.

In a global economy, having a multi-lingual employee can be invaluable. Many companies list speaking proficiency in a second language as a prerequisite for employment.

Considering learning a new language but unsure of which? Here are the 5 most widely spoken languages globally:

1. Chinese/Mandarin

2. Spanish

3. English

4. Hindi-Urdu

5. Arabic

2. Technical Skills

Technical skills are similar to the giant spinning coins in Super Mario in that the more collected, the stronger the candidate and the more probable success.

Learning material for computer skills is only a simple Google search away—or Bing, depending on your search engine preference. With many companies transitioning to paperless systems and relying on online marketing techniques, technical knowledge is more sought after now than ever.

We did a bit of digging to find the most relevant technical skills for 2013. We came up with the following list:

1. HTML5

This simple markup language is the foundation of everything web-based, so, naturally, it’s a coveted skill. HTML5 is supported by the latest versions of all major web browsers. Fortunately, this skill is relatively easy to learn.

2. iOS Development

I have an iPhone, an iPad, an iPod, and an Apple laptop. In fact, almost everyone I know owns at least one Apple device, which explains why iOS development, required to create Apple applications, is second on our list.

3. PHP

PHP is an open source scripting language used by most high profile websites. It runs on more than 20 million websites.

4. Java/J2EE

The demand for Java/J2EE talent has remained consistently high the past few years, increasing incrementally. According to Dice, professionals with Java/J2EE skills will enjoy another rise in demand this year.

5. JavaScript

JavaScript is the magic that allows smartphones and tablets to interact on the web. As jQuery is perhaps the most user friendly JavaScript language, beginners may wish to begin learning here.

A great site for novices to learn essential technical skills is www.w3schools.com. This site uses layman terms to comprehensibly and simply teach users a variety of applications, programing languages, etc. Each of the above skills can be learned free of cost at w3schools.

3. Writing skills

No matter their field, most employees are required to, at the very least, compose e-mails, letters, memos, and/or proposals. Sloppy writing reflects badly on the individual and the organization and increases the likelihood of miscommunication. Most conflicts originate from miscommunication, which is more prevalent in written correspondence than in spoken. To avoid it, and thus conflict arising from it, ideas should be expressed clearly, simply, and concisely. The goal is to make the reader’s job as simple as possible. For consistency—and, because we love lists—we’ve included a short list of common writing problems:

1. Misspellings

Spelling seems trivial. It’s not. Incorrect spelling leads to confusion and a loss of credibility from the reader.

2. Punctuation/Grammatical Errors

Grammatical and punctuation errors also lead to a loss of both credibility and clarity. Commas are pesky little suckers, but misplace one, and the meaning of a sentence changes completely.

3. Unclear Purpose

The purpose should be stated clearly in a single sentence at the beginning of the document. The remainder of your document should support this purpose.

4. Rambling

Professionals don’t have time to sift through excess verbiage to find the vital bits. So that the principal message doesn’t get lost in the fluff and the reader does not lose interest/patience and stop reading, any sentence that does not further the purpose statement should be stripped away. Even the most brilliant sentence must be excised if it does not support the objective of the text.

Mistakes are easy to make—I’ve made several so far—so editing, if only briefly, is always worthwhile.

For more information about effective writing techniques and to learn industry specific writing guidelines, check out the style guide for your field. Each discipline abides by a different style guide. Information Technology uses the ITS (Information Technology Services) Style Guide. For those in Financial Services, The Financial Style Guide by Colin Inman and Roger Beale is a great writing resource. The three most commonly used are MLA (my favorite—I love the Oxford Comma), APA, and Chicago. Disciplines in the Humanities follow MLA formatting, whereas Communication fields follow APA. Chicago is typically used in publishing. Style guides for each of these as well as very useful writing tips can be found online free of cost at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl.

And, so concludes our list. To recap, key skills increase a candidate’s worth. Speaking proficiency in a foreign language, skill with a scripting/programming language, and a strong writing ability are valuable skills to learn.

When applying for a position without Sharp Decisions, a candidate’s impressive skillset may or may not be viewed by the hiring manager, and if it is, it may get lost among the other candidates with similarly impressive skills. However, when one applies through Sharp Decisions, we ensure that each of your relevant abilities is highlighted to the hiring manager. Thus, the candidate’s chances of being hired are significantly increased.

As always, we’re interested in your opinions and questions. Please e-mail them to hbruner@sharpdecisions.com.