Over the past 10 years I've had the pleasure of working with New Hampshire employers through highly prosperous and unprecedentedly difficult economic times. Throughout this duration a few constants have remained in tact:
3. Employers are excited about employees and job seekers with a demonstrated thirst for knowledge.
As a job seeker attempting to obtain employment or an employee attempting to retain employment the above points one and two are a bit out of your control. The third, however, is entirely under your control and can set you apart from your peers. Whether you are employed or unemployed, junior level or senior level, part time or full time, the message is very simple: Keep Learning. Employees and job seekers that continue to learn on their own time and their own dime automatically project a passion about their profession (have no illusions, you don't have to be employed to have a "profession"). Depending on your resources, related to time and money, this continued learning curve can be pursued in multiple ways. With that said, even those with minimal time and no money have options and it is critical to take advantage.
My profession is in the Information Technology sector so I'll have to apologize to the "non-techie" audience for the following examples. We often help employers locate contract or full time software developers or IT support professionals. As we discuss our candidates with employers and employers discuss their employees with us, the same "continued learning" topic comes up. Last week we completed the placement of a software programmer who, at best, was 50% qualified for the job. What won the deal? During the interview process this individual, who had been unemployed for nearly 9 months, discussed their experiences with downloading multiple open-source (FREE) software packages at home and had been learning how this software is tested and deployed. They were well read, well researched, and ,while they had zero commercial experience, they demonstrated a passion for open-source software and how it is utilized in their field. Most importantly, their attitude was a complete home-run. Employers generally love the excitement in this regard.
The flipside to this coin is the professional without the continued thirst for knowledge. It is often times this very lack of initiative that causes employers to reach outside to find niche skills. We constantly hear employers who, while they value and appreciate the efforts of their employees, are frustrated with their employees demonstrated complacency when it comes to sharpening existing skills or learning new ones.
You get the point. What I happily do is constantly reach out to all job seekers and current working professionals to help them identify avenues to broaden their knowledge. Without getting too terribly preachy, I firmly advise anyone to pick up a new book or research a new topic online today. Want to impress the person interviewing you? Show them how you have been hard at work, while seeking employment, to learn new practices in your field. Want to impress your boss? Go to them and tell them you want to increase your value in the organization. Have them point you in the direction of what to learn. You may even find your employer will pay the way for you.
My hope is that this was a helpful piece.