In an increasingly competitive global job market, students will likely find it harder and harder to secure their dream jobs. Competitors from places like Asia, South and Central America, and Europe now intermingle, crossing international borders on a daily basis to do business and expand commercial influence.
In the midst of this overwhelmingly rapid global overhaul of business systems, college graduates on the verge of entering the workforce may find it extremely difficult to meet rising employer expectations.
Here are five ways to make sure that you remain competitive in the global job market:
1. Diversify your skill set
The more you know and the more you can do, the more valuable you become to any company. Seek to show prospective employers that you bring a variety of skills to the table and will thereby add value to the company and help it achieve its objectives.
If you are a student, there are a variety of ways to do this. In addition to seeking diverse academic achievements such as double majoring or adding minors, you can also involve yourself in a plethora of campus organizations to demonstrate a wide range of experiences.
Although many of us were taught that specialization is the key to career success, that may now be a double-edged sword. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into one industry; for example, if you are a finance major, be open to the idea of applying your skills in the agriculture industry.
Versatility is key; the more adaptable you can be, the better.
2. Take your competition into perspective
If one of your biggest accomplishments is that you are in the top 10 percent of your class, keep in mind that your competition goes far beyond that. Don’t get me wrong; being in the top 10 percent of your class is fantastic.
The playing field, however, has extended not just to the few thousand that you will graduate with, but to the millions that are currently in the workforce around the world.
Don’t be satisfied with where you stand, because there’s always room for improvement. In order to be successful, you have to be two steps ahead of your competition, and that means being well-informed.
Research, read the news and understand the ever-evolving trends in the global job market. Whatever you do, don’t wait until you graduate to start practicing. It is never too early to start understanding exactly what you will face when you enter the workforce.
3. Master a new language
This is probably one of the most coveted skills in a globalized job market. The ability to communicate effectively with clients, business partners and suppliers from a different country can add tremendous value to any resume and instantly boost your marketability.
Many American students are required to take foreign language classes in grade school, high school or college, but how many can actually hold a fluent, natural conversation in a language other than English?
Mastering a new language allows you to close that communication gap, making you an invaluable addition to any company trying to achieve international trade. Learning the nuances of any foreign language makes you a bridge between two different cultures, a valuable skill that not very many people possess.
4. Take advantage of study abroad opportunities
Traveling is not only personally fulfilling, but it also allows you to bring a wealth of diverse experience to your career.
Immersing yourself in a different culture gives you the ability to approach problems from multiple angles, which, once again, could give you the edge over many of your competitors.
Also, make sure that you don’t just consider opportunities in the stereotypical study abroad destinations. Many people choose to study abroad in the United Kingdom, Italy or pretty much any other European country.
As more companies are doing business in places like Brazil, India and China, studying abroad in developing nations with up-and-coming industries will likely be much more valuable than a semester in Paris.
5. Be open to new experiences
If you’re set on living in Kansas, or even the United States for that matter, you may be severely limiting yourself. Keep your options open; living in a different country might seem intimidating at first, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is an adventure that can provide you with many amazing experiences.
Don’t let uncharted waters scare you away from taking the opportunity of a lifetime. Grab life and your career by the horns. One of my favorite high school teachers used to give us a piece of advice that I will never forget.
“In life, you will be faced with tough decisions and you’ll have to make some hard choices,” he would say. “Either you make the choices, or life will make those choices for you.”
You never know what could be waiting for you; look at the unknown as an exciting new frontier of opportunity.
Andy Rao is a junior in finance and accounting. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.