What kind of marketable skills should I be focusing on?
September 6, 2018 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I graduated with a degree in the liberal arts and now work part time at a bank as a customer service representative. I'm in my mid twenties and having a very hard time landing another job. I'm not sure where I should be at all. Which skills should I focus on that will make me more marketable? What resources on the internet will be able to help me? I have some experience with html and Microsoft word but not enough to make me feel that I can put it on the resume. I do not want to work in sales at all.
posted by sheepishchiffon to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Where would you like to be?

Expert Excel skills and data analysis and data viz skills will serve you well wherever you land. See if your local public library offers Lynda.com as a free online service. HTML5 would be good, too.
posted by jgirl at 3:54 PM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

Customer service is an important part of any job. Even if your 'customers' aren't the general public, you'll still have customers. Focus on listening to what your customers want, what they need, and what they ask for. Do your best to give them all three.

This is mostly a soft skill, but it can translate to your resume as well. It will certainly help you *keep* a job once you get one.
posted by hydra77 at 3:58 PM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

More marketable for what?

If you're looking for a generic - what skills will lead to me to the most money job - coding is always suggested.

But more importantly, what do you want to do?
posted by k8t at 4:05 PM on September 6, 2018

Many interviewers will see rote-learned skills as having secondary value to actual experience in doing a thing in a 'real-world' environment. Having been on both sides (the potential recruit / the recruiter), the big thing that has stood out for me is the 'I want to do X / I have tried X and I like doing X' approach. In other words, I think it's better to think in terms of 'what do I think I would like to do, and how can I most easily get some experience of that thing?' than in terms of 'what skill will give me the best set of opportunities in exchange for time spent learning?'. The latter implies a cold job-seeking logic, and my experience with people who think that way is that they're not the best type of employees or co-workers. In short: what would you love to do? How can you get there? The answer could include voluntary work, additional education, 'starting at the bottom', etc.

On preview, what k8t said much more succinctly.
posted by pipeski at 4:14 PM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

What resources on the internet will be able to help me?

https://www.onetonline.org/ and https://www.prospects.ac.uk/ for career exploration (and some national, country-specific labour market data)

Labour market data for your area (see local government pages)

Indeed.com/ca/co.uk/... - poke around. Look at jobs that appeal to you (check out the salaries etc). Research those jobs (do informational interviewing, etc). Google "day in the life" of that role, and see if that sounds reasonable. See where people often go after doing that job. Consider working conditions, too (maybe there are only a few cities that matter for this job, maybe it involves sitting down all day and you hate that, etc). If you like the look of it, go back to Indeed and see which skills/certifications/qualifications most employers are looking for. If you have to take a postgrad college course, do it. Most young people I know with (just) bachelors degrees have had to top that up with some kind of applied education to get employers to even look at them.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:05 PM on September 6, 2018

(Also try to get a sense of where people in that field think the wind is blowing - is there oversaturation, is that job being taken over by robots, whatever. Go back to labour market data [projections], scan the news, and ask another question here, and maybe on Reddit, once you have some more firmed-up ideas of what you want to do.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:09 PM on September 6, 2018

Excel, as mentioned above, is very useful. If you can find a way to use it at work that would be good.

Managing staff is a decent transferable skill if you have the mind for it. You probably may not have the opportunity in your current place, but it's worth reading up about it.
posted by ovvl at 5:25 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is almost impossible to answer without knowing what kinds of jobs you want.

If you’re overwhelmed by all the directions you could head, then it seems like some research is in your future. The book What Color is your Parachute is recommended a lot for good reason - it’s very helpful for narrowing down what you’re good at and what you like doing/what’s important to you in a job. Once you’re clear on that, you can start looking into jobs with those things, and start figuring out where your skills are strong and what skills you should build.

But honestly, just applying for every professional-seeming job you come across is unlikely to get you where you want to be. You have to have at least a general sense of what you want.
posted by lunasol at 5:28 PM on September 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

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