The job marketplace is about as chaotic at the moment as I can remember it being. How do you make yourself stand out if you’re looking for work?

The challenge most professional people face in their careers is that of keeping their skills fresh – up to date with current market trends and legislation. For technical people this is a massive issue: every technology is on a relentless upgrade cycle and working out when to jump across to a new technology is a huge decision – get it wrong and you’re stuck supporting AS400 for the rest of your life, or you’ve become an expert in a system that crashed horribly (Biztalk, for example).

So a magic bullet that futureproofed your CV would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

Virtually every vacancy I work on at Vocative has one requirement in common. Everyone wants it to a greater or lesser extent; candidates have it in wildly varying quantities. That attribute is, quite simply, business acumen. Companies want their technical people to make a genuine commercial difference to their business.

If it sounds simple, that’s because it probably is – to you. If you’re someone who already understands the business they work in, sees the commercial realities and can see how they can improve either top or bottom line, you might not see how big a thing that is. But it is – finding someone with a good technical skill set and the ability to make a commercial impact can be difficult. But think about it from a business’s point of view – why would you want to hire someone who doesn’t understand or take interest in how they can improve your business – particularly now?

So this is a very short blog really. I’ve got two pieces of advice:

  1. Work out how you are currently adding commercial value in your company. I mean how you personally are making the company more money or saving them money. If you conclude that you aren’t, work out how you can.
  2. Work hard at quantifying that value and detailing it in your CV in such a way that it is clear your technical skills bring genuine commercial value.

That’s it. Simple stuff but it will have a huge impact on your ability to find a new role, and excel in your current one.

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