Having a competitive advantage in the workforce requires job seekers to understand what skills are in demand by employers and how they can become easily trained upon being hired.
One thing job seekers can do to set themselves apart is to position themselves as a cross-functional job seeker. Now, you’re probably wondering what this means for job seekers, especially when the most common term associated with “cross-functional” is teamwork. Let’s find out what it means to be a cross-functional job seeker.
What is a cross-functional job seeker?
The concept of being a “cross-functional job seeker” is similar to that of a “cross-functional team.” A cross-functional team is one whose members have a variety of skills and experience to offer. For example, a cross-functional team may have individuals who have expertise in marketing, finance, and operations, but they all work towards a common goal.
The cross-functional job seeker fosters a similar concept. You can think of this characteristic as a jack-of-all-trades quality. Job seekers who are cross-functional take the time to get their feet wet in a variety of skills. This helps them diversify their skills set and make them easier to train when applying for jobs.
Cross-functional job seekers are also individuals who are experts in one area but have a variety of skills under their belt. For example, let’s say you have a B.S. in statistics. If you’re hoping to become a cross-functional statistician, you could build upon your current knowledge by gaining experience in market research or finance. Because of your math background, this would make you an appealing candidate to employers hiring market research analysts or financial analysts.
As you can tell, being a cross-functional job seeker allows you to create more flexibility in your career. If you’re wondering how you can become a cross-functional job seeker, here are some tips to get you started:
1. Create a goal.
Cross-functional job seekers are very specific with their goals. Just like a cross-functional team, the different skills you gain must help you reach a common career goal, too.
The goal you create for your job search will set the stage for the skills and experience you decide to gain. For example, if you’re hoping to break into a new industry, then you’ll need to obtain the skills required in order to be successful.
To create a directional goal, research different opportunities within your field. Take time to read job descriptions and learn about in-demand skills within your field. If you discover similar skills demanded by different job postings, consider adding those skills to your professional toolbox, too.
2. Target your expertise.
Most career paths today are very diverse because of the number of specializations available. When marketing yourself as a cross-functional job seeker, obtain skills and experience that relate to your field, but also set you apart at the same time.
A common issue job seekers have when diversifying their skills and experience is that they only familiarize themselves with different areas of expertise; they don’t take time to become an expert in those different skills.
When gaining new skills, you should instead target your expertise and make your skills more specific. Targeting your expertise requires an investment in continuous learning.
Take advantage of opportunities to develop your unique skills and build accomplishments you can add to your portfolio. This way, when you market yourself as a cross-functional applicant, you’ll increase your credibility by having something to show for on your resume and cover letter.
3. Market your different skills at the right time.
To effectively market your different skills, you must be very careful when writing your resume and cover letter. Employers are definitely interested in candidates who have a diverse set of skills. However, they want your skills to be applicable to the position they’re hiring for.
For example, let’s say you’re a public relations professional who has experience in content marketing, social media, and event planning. You just discovered a job opening with an events company and you’re trying to figure out how to write a customized resume and cover letter. Although you have a diverse background in PR, it makes sense to market your events experience to the employer. This way, you can effectively market your skills for the right position.
4. Be flexible in your job search.
The great thing about having a variety of skills is that it gives you the opportunity to be more flexible in your job search. Flexibility is an important characteristic of cross-functional job seekers because it gives you the opportunity to apply for different jobs and be easily trained once hired.
When it comes to being a cross-functional job seeker, it’s about gaining skills to help you achieve your goals and advance your career. Even if it’s something as simple as learning how to use a new piece of technology employers in your field are using, this skill can set you apart from other job seekers.
Do you consider yourself a cross-functional job seeker? How have you set yourself apart from other job seekers?