Let's face it - there are so many college grads and young professionals out there struggling to find a job, but you won't have luck without some sort of competitive edge. Now a 'competitive edge' can mean a series of things, but I've narrowed the list down to what I believe to are the 7 most important skills a young professional can possess. By studying or brushing up on some of these skills (and maybe mastering a few of them) you can separate yourself from the crowd and stay competitive in your job search.
1. Basic Web Design
Now this might seem like a scary thought, but don't let that keep you from trying. Most hiring managers know not all candidates are fluent in code or experts with design. As a matter of fact, most large companies have in-house teams and third-party agencies to manage all things site related; however, small businesses & startups rely on template-based websites, such as Wordpress or Squarespace. Knowing how to navigate the features & add-ons these sites use can really give you a competitive edge.
2. Photo Editing / Photoshop
Stay current with photo editing tools, software, and applications for mobile and desktop devices. With all the image-driven social networks out there, it doesn't hurt knowing how to enhance photos and create high-quality content. Photo editing and photoshop skills can also be useful in email marketing campaigns and content creation, e.g. infographics and tutorials.
3. Email Marketing
Having the ability to not only develop content, but to share it effectively is an incredible asset. Consider researching email management tools, finding professional newsletter templates, practicing email structures. Sites like MailChimp and Constant Contact are great for this sort of job.
4. Content Creation & Strategy
With such a high demand for new and original content, businesses need creative minds to help out. Writing copy will no doubt be one of the most useful skills to develop. Similar to email marketing, content creation requires strategic thinking and implementation once it's ready to share. Knowing how to develop a content calendar and determining the most optimal ways of sharing can boost you to the top of the candidate pool.
In order for a business to be successful it has to be run efficiently, making you more valuable if you know how to help this process. Streamlining content and processes is great as it can eliminate hours of superfluous work. Some processes that can be streamlined are sales, email marketing campaigns, and auto-responses on social media. IFTTT and Zapier two great streamlining applications that can be used for both personal and professional tasks.
6. Social Media Strategy
Not to be confused with social media management, social media strategy refers to the way in which content is shared. Which social networks will the content be shared on? What time should you post to receive the most engagement? How will you word the captions associated with the content? These are just a few of the questions that an effective strategist (you) should understand and know how to answer.
7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Last, and most definitely not least, is SEO. Understanding SEO is an invaluable skill, as it allows you to effectively enhance the presence of an individual or a business online. Optimizing content means you are tapping into the long and short-tail keywords that will rank in search results, ultimately driving more traffic to a website. And what business doesn't want to see more traffic? The sooner you learn, the better. Some of my favorite SEO guides & tutorials can be found with QuickSprout and SEOmoz.