If there’s anything the pandemic has shown us, it’s that you really can’t predict what’s going to happen in your career — especially in a fast-paced business world and the continuously evolving job market. So whether you’re staying put in your current role or looking to jump ship, employability matters.
But what is being employable all about? Besides sheer luck, industry or network, are there other reasons why some professionals are barely able to take a hiatus without being swarmed with job offers while others tirelessly look for opportunities for months?
“Employability really comes down to how well you can communicate your value, rather than how much education background or schooling you have,” says workforce strategist Clair Kim.
“It also comes down to how fast you are able to learn and perform on the job. I think there is a misconception nowadays, where if you don’t have 15 years of experience, and if you don’t have an MBA, you’re not considered employable.”
It turns out mindset is more of a differentiator than you might expect. “Mindset is more important when it comes to being employable because it determines the attitude you have when you’re applying for jobs and how you’re conducting yourself throughout the interview process,” says Kim.
According to her, if you don’t believe you’re the best choice for the job or lack confidence in your abilities, it’s going to show in the way you carry yourself and affect your results.
“If you’re not sold on your own value, employers won’t be able to be sold on that value either.”
Here are four mindset shifts to embrace to become instantly more employable (and a more confident, successful professional all-around).
1. “Because of this, I can.”
Have you ever felt under-qualified or suffered from impostor syndrome? This mindset shift is the perfect antidote to your moments of self-doubt.
“Too many professionals, especially female professionals, make the mistake of feeling at a disadvantage if they don’t feel that they meet 100% of the qualifications for a job,” says Kim.
“And this can also apply in situations where maybe you didn’t graduate from an Ivy League school or maybe you didn’t really get to start your career as early as other people were able to.”
Here’s a helpful exercise from Kim’s playbook: Take a look at your experience and credentials and whatever concerns you have. Focus on the things that make you feel at a disadvantage.
For example, say you took a gap year to focus on your children. Instead of feeling insecure about the gap in your resume, you can turn it into a strength.
“And then you are able to say, ‘Because I took a gap year to take care of the kids, I had to really work on my time-management and communication skills, and it allowed me to develop so much more emotional intelligence than I would have in the workplace.’”
Not only will looking at your perceived shortcomings in a positive light instantly boost your confidence, but it will also help you showcase your value when applying for jobs.
2. “How can I help the company?”
Any employer-employee relationship — especially a new one — can bring forth intimidating moments.
According to Kim, because of this, professionals can end up walking into important interactions such as job interviews with the mindset that they don’t want to mess up, or with an exaggerated focus on what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it, which can be counterproductive.
Shifting to an employer-focused perspective will allow you to get out of your own head and take the pressure off yourself. “How can I help the company?” then becomes a very powerful question to ask yourself on a regular basis and become more employable.
“You don’t need to be the one coming up with the answer; rather, it allows you to empower yourself as someone who is showing up as an equal and who is able to contribute to the company, and you are presenting yourself as someone with a solution,” says Kim.
“You’re embodying the solution-oriented mindset, rather than thinking, ‘How can I do this?’ That’s a mindset shift that’s going to help you during interviews, but also in any situation.”
3. Unique advantage and transferable skills
“Another mindset shift that can make any professional more employable is the ability to say, ‘How can this be applicable?’ or ‘Why is this my unique advantage?’” says Kim.
This is especially true during times of career transition, moments when you are going back into the workforce after personal changes and don’t feel super employable on the inside, or if you don’t have the most conventional employment path.
How can your background be an advantage? What have your experiences taught you? Remember that every piece of your background makes you unique and valuable as a professional, says Kim.
Even if you think things seem disjointed or unrelated, you might be surprised to discover common threads around your superpowers — the unique abilities and mix of insights that only you can bring to the table.
4. Rejection is not personal
Highly employable professionals come in all shapes and sizes. But there’s one thing they have in common — their perspective on rejection. And it’s a perspective you’ll really want to embrace if you want to become more employable yourself.
“The mindset trap that I see that really successful professionals tend to avoid is making rejection mean something about them,” says Kim.
Yes, rejection can feel personal at times. Being passed over for an opportunity can make you question your self-worth and bring up feelings of not-enoughness. But it’s important to anticipate this reaction and know how to reframe your thoughts.
“Most employable and successful professionals know that rejection doesn’t mean anything about them. It just means something wasn’t a good fit,” says Kim.
“So stop taking rejection as something that means anything about you and just view it as something that says ‘Oh, okay, this is something that is going to lead me to something else.’”