5 ways to increase your employability

While on-the-job experience is critical for selling yourself through your résumé, plenty of other factors can increase your odds of being hired. Here are five easy-and potentially fun-ways to get a leg-up in relevant work skills and experience:

1. Become a social media guru.

Many businesses now consider connecting with consumers through social media an essential part of their business strategy. Ironically, the medium is so new, there are few "experts." Learn how to write and maintain a blog, garner and engage a Twitter following, and leverage Facebook as a self-marketing tool and you will not only have a leg up on the competition, but also you will firmly establish a network that can help you in your job search. Just remember that everything you do online is now regarded as your collective résumé, so keep it clean and professional.

2. Master a new computer program
Employers are much more likely to invest in someone who comes in with prior knowledge than someone who will require extensive on-the-job training. That's why mastering relevant software on your own time can dramatically increase your desirability. Consider taking online tutorials, including freebies on YouTube, for programs generally used in your field. Common requirements include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, and customer-management software such as Salesforce. Familiarity with professional programs are excellent additions to the skills section of your résumé and will give you an edge, especially since it shows resourcefulness.

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3. Brush up on your foreign language skills.

Again, gaining language skills doesn't always require putting in class time. Simply pick up books or CDs from the library and make learning a language part of your poolside reading or gym time activity. Adding a skill to your resume never felt more like vacation!

4. Volunteer at organizations you care about.
In the absence of an extensive professional background, volunteer experiences are valuable ways to illustrate your work ethic, knowledge of the industry, and your reliability. They're also great sources for on-the-job training-and sometimes leads to paying jobs.

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5. Attend networking events in the industry of your interest.

When it comes down to it, job search is all about connections, so it's imperative that you seek opportunities to establish professional relationships. Attend meet-ups and speaking events and make a point to get the e-mail addresses of people you meet there.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

photo credit: istockphoto.com