Earn Job Hunting

How to Speed Up Your Job Search and Make Yourself More Marketable

Lynn Morrison  |  January 13, 2021

Facing income or job loss, or already out of work? Here’s how to make yourself more marketable so you're ready when the market reopens.

As we enter a New Year — a year with a vaccine — we hope to see the end of the COVID crisis forever, and its toll on our economy. The pandemic has created job insecurity for millions of Americans, with 35% of people having either lost jobs or had their and incomes cut, according to a recent survey from HerMoney and Debt.com. And January’s jobs report showed that the country lost some 140,000 jobs in December 2020 –  a turn for the worse since we started adding jobs back in May. It’s no surprise then, that 57% say they’re worried about job security as we head into the New Year, according to a LendEDU study. 

If you or another breadwinner in your household is facing a drop in income or a job loss, there are things you can do now to make yourself more marketable. We’ve identified several approaches for women in different life stages, so take a look if you’re looking for a career shift (or a career boost!) in 2021. 

Transition from Stay-at-Home Mom to Working Mom

A year of being indoors with your kids may catapult some stay-at-home moms back into the working world. Returning to work after a baby is stressful at the best of times, but can be particularly overwhelming if you’ve taken an extended absence stretching from months into years. However, don’t let that gap in your experience cause you to despair.

Kate Turner, CEO of Motivational Leadership, offers advice on how to get started: “Most people start their search by looking for a job title or specific field. However, if you’ve been out of the working world for a while, you may need a different approach.”

Turner recommends taking an inventory of your skills (things you’ve learned through study or on the job), talents (abilities that come naturally to you), and behaviors (a broad category that encompasses your soft skills). “You’ll no doubt have examples of how you’ve used these skills, talents and behaviors outside of the workplace,” she says. These are going to be your most marketable skills. 

Once you have a solid understanding of what you would bring to a role, research which careers would make for the best match. You may identify a new role within a previous field of work, or find yourself drawn to something new. Either way, you’ll have a clear idea of which elements you can emphasize on your cover letter and on your resume, and make yourself look even better for a position

If you are having trouble, you may want to reach out to a career advisor or resume expert to see what makes you most marketable in the job force. The important thing is not to lose hope or to suffer from a lack of confidence. 

Move Into a Higher Paying Role or Job

If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to ask for a pay review, push for a promotion or look for a higher paying role, now is the time to get moving. The first step is to do research. Use some of your previous commute time to benchmark your salary using job search websites and salary comparison tools. Does your salary match the industry average, or have you fallen behind by staying in a role for a long time? What does the salary look like for the next level above? What skills are required to move up a level within the org chart?

Once you have a clear picture of salaries and skills, you can focus on filling in any gaps. 

There is a wealth of online courses available for free right now, allowing you to get expert training in soft skills like people management and leadership, or dive deeper into your field, gaining new credentials. These make you even more valuable to your current company, and in the end, more marketable if you decide to start looking.

When business returns to normal, you’ll be well-prepared for a conversation with your boss or hiring manager. Remember, businesses will need to get up and running as quickly as possible. Training new employees requires time and resources. Don’t be afraid to highlight your ability to take on new challenges, juggle tasks and get the work done when speaking with your boss.

Apply Your Marketable Skills in a New Job Field

Unfortunately, some industries will recover slower than others. This may mean that you need to pivot your career and try something new. A skills analysis is a great place to start. It is easy to forget that much of what we know and can do well is applicable (and marketable) to a wide range of roles.

For example, an event manager may have skills relevant to project management, supply chain management or production management. All of those roles require strict attention to detail and an understanding of gating factors and cascades. Someone who works in sales may find they are good at marketing or at customer service. After all, sales roles train you to read an audience, communicate well and to see the world through your prospect’s eyes. Marketing and customer service utilize those same skills, albeit in a slightly different manner.

Rather than focusing on upskilling, spend your spare time deep-diving into a new industry. Find out who the major players are, read up on trends and industry drivers and learn as much as you can about their client base. This preparation will put you in good stead for an interview. 

Don’t Forget to Think About What You Want

Finding a job — any job — may be your first and foremost goal. Seeking financial stability in uncertain times is understandable. In the best-case scenario you’ll find work that engages the skills and talents that you love using. That kind of work will sustain you during tough times, Turner says. 

“You may need to get creative about how your wants are met,” she says. “You just need to give yourself permission in the first place to be looking for a role that nurtures you as well as (literally) feeds you.”

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