Guest comment: How to make yourself more employable

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Survival isn't just about avoiding redundancy, says Michael Moran, chief exec of Fairplace. It's also about ensuring your appeal to employers over the long run.

How do you avoid getting the chop? If the bank you work for is forced to downsize then perhaps you can't. But you can ensure that you are redeployed. And this is not necessarily about saving your skin this time around but ensuring your employability going forward.

Build your profile

Competence isn't enough. You'll need to ensure that people who matter know who you are, and how good you are, and want to take you with them. You'll also need a positive and visible profile within the organisation and to ally yourself with those who can promote your career.

Think seriously about the people you know and the influence they wield - who has the potential to impact on your career? Develop a strategy that will strengthen your relationship with them. Build your profile, ensure you are visible to those who matter, and ally yourself with people who can help you. It's about being well connected and making sure your contribution is noticed.

How can you raise your profile and credibility within the organisation? If you want a solid career it's essential to develop and exhibit good leadership skills. A good leader has the ability to influence and engage others around him or her. They are able to take tough and unpopular decisions if necessary, and are authentic.

Network

Above all, however, you will need to network. People who are really successful are well connected, both inside and outside the organisation. The people skills you develop through networking are essential as you move into more senior positions. They will also give you a competitive advantage over the course of a career.

Be ready to spot and respond to opportunities. Seek assignments outside your area of expertise or normal job responsibilities. Initiative and well-rounded skills will impress your managers and increase your visibility within the company, making you someone for management to watch and develop.

Do some external networking so you know what is cutting edge for other organisations. As you rise through an organisation it will help if you appreciate the bigger picture and can distinguish between what's really important and what will have no significant impact on the company's bottom line.

Plot your ascent

Opportunities to advance don't always fall into your lap, so be proactive in asking for them. You don't want to be seen as a foot-soldier but as someone with strategic perspective, able to make tough decisions.

To succeed in the fast moving, modern business environment taking charge of your own career is an imperative. Which skills do you need to make yourself more marketable? Consider yourself as a product and campaign accordingly, whether planning your next move, climbing the career ladder or reinventing your life.

This means taking advantage of every opportunity for continuous learning and professional development. Need a new qualification, to learn Mandarin Chinese, or some coaching in leadership skills? Look for a competitive advantage. What are other professionals in your field offering? Can you differentiate yourself by offering something extra, different or unique?

Don't let your career just happen and don't wait to be noticed. Take a proactive, targeted approach to maximise your potential and you'll get more fulfilment from the challenges. You are responsible for your own future.

Fairplace is an outplacement and talent management organisation based in the City of London.

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