How Marketable Are You?
Estimated Lesson Time: 3 minutes
Imagine a huge retail store where instead of products on the shelves, there were people. This is a store where hiring managers go to “buy” employees for their business or organization. The shoppers think like all shoppers do when buying products. They may ask questions such as, “Do I need this product? How will I benefit from using this product? Is this product outdated or replaced by a better product? Is it reliable? Is it priced right? Do I have a choice of many similar products or is this one unique? Now think of yourself as a product on a shelf in this store. Are you a hot item that is consistently out of stock? Or are you one of those items that sit on the table in the front of the store marked “damaged goods - price reduced”?
When it comes to selling our labor in the form of employment, sometimes it helps to think of ourselves as products. This helps us to understand the needs of employers better. A product that is considered “marketable” is one that can be exchanged relatively easily for something else of value. When people are considered marketable, they can exchange their labor for something else of value, such as a satisfying career.
So the question is, how marketable are you? More important, what can you do to become more marketable? Here are some suggestions.
- Define the ideal skill sets desired for your industry. Before you can work on your skills, you must know what skills you need to be working on. Do not make assumptions here. Don’t think the skills you learned back in the 60s while attending college are the same skills required today. Talk to your manager, mentor, or any industry expert. Read the trade magazines and keep on top of the industry.
- Be involved in continual education. Remember that “formal education” is not the only kind of education. There are many ways to educate yourself in addition to enrolling in more formal classes. Once you know the skills that will help you to become more marketable, you can begin to develop and/or improve on those skills. Being marketable is about being competitive and desired.
- Be a leader. Being good at what you do is fine, but when you are good at what you do as well as being an excellent leader, you stand above the crowd. Having leadership qualities can make you a “hot item”!
- Promote yourself. Become a master of self-promotion. When someone says your name, you want the response to be “I heard of [him/her]... [he/she]’s that [guy/lady] who [insert great quality here].” Don’t expect anybody to promote you for you (unless you are paying for it)—you must do it yourself.
Now, what if you define the skill sets needed for your industry and realize that you have no desire to acquire the skills needed to be seen as marketable? Consider changing vocations. What are your skills? What skills would you enjoy learning? In which industry would you enjoy being? Ski equipment might not sell very well on Miami Beach, but it will sell in Vermont. If you are unwilling to change your product, then change where you are selling it.
Don’t be the product that ends up in the “price reduced” bin. Know what it takes to be marketable in your chosen profession and make the effort to not only stay ahead of the curve, but make an effort to lead the pack. Educate, promote, and lead and you will be the hot item that never sits on the shelf for very long.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)