By Caroline Levchuck
Build your skills and boost your chances of getting a job.
Spend some time enhancing your product: You. You want to make yourself as attractive as possible to potential employers.
Developing your writing, speaking, planning and organizational skills can make you a stronger candidate and help you find a job. Plus, these skills can make your job search go more smoothly.
The Write Stuff
Your writing muscle weakens unless you exercise it regularly.
There are many ways to improve your writing skills:
*Read more. Reading helps you develop an ear for good writing and build your vocabulary. The more you read, the better you'll write.
*Take a writing class at a local adult education program. Many are affordable and require you to write on a weekly basis. The instructors will also critique your work and help sharpen your skills.
*Pick up a copy of the classic guide, "Elements of Style," by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. It's arguably the best little book on writing you'll ever read.
Strong presentation skills can help you interview and network more effectively.
In some positions, presentation skills are a job requirement. But these skills will serve you well in almost any job.
Here are some ways to improve your presentation and public speaking skills:
*Attend local public speaking seminars or classes. Many adult education programs offer short, affordable seminars that provide tips on presenting and speaking.
*Try to speak in front of a group as often as possible. Like all skills, public speaking takes practice. Even simple speeches, like giving a toast or sharing your thoughts at a book club meeting, can help you become more comfortable speaking in front of a group.
*Find a friend to help you practice. Ask a friend to be your audience for a mock presentation and give feedback on your performance. Or, if you're not yet ready for constructive criticism, videotape yourself and critique your own performance.
Time Is a Wastin'
Like most people, you probably often wish that you had more time.
While you can't add hours to the day, you can learn to use the time you have better.
Effective time management makes you a more productive person, period. Honing this skill can help speed your job search and make it go more smoothly. It'll also show an employer that you'll be a productive worker who can prioritize projects and accomplish tasks.
Here are some resources to help with time management:
*Find a system to log appointments, meetings and tasks. Whether you choose an inexpensive notebook or a pricey personal digital assistant, you'll be able to track how you're using your time.
*Designate time in your calendar to work on important projects, and then minimize interruptions during that time. While multi-tasking can be useful, working on too many things at once makes it difficult to complete any of them.
*Research time management seminars. The Franklin Covey program is one of the most popular.
*Pick up a copy of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Steven R. Covey. This inexpensive, best-selling book is a great place to start.