Learning these skills can make you more marketable during your job search – and you can apply them to a variety of careers, too.

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After four (or more) long years, you finally graduated from school and have been thrust onto the mean streets of the job market. Sure, you took all the necessary courses and credits to get your trusty diploma, but there are some skills your professor may not have taught you.

These aren’t skills like mastering biology or economics, nor are they touchy-feely soft skills like learning how to get along well with others and communicate. Instead, these skills often fall under the radar but can drastically increase your professional street-cred. Best of all, you can apply them to a variety of careers.

Adopt ‘em, adapt ‘em, and, young workers of the world, give yourself a marketing edge.

Skill #1: Web design

If you don’t have a web presence, you’re missing out on opportunities to build your personal brand. Even if you’re a techphobe and stick to learning basic web design skills, you can still set up and host a simple web page.

At the very least, this cyber destination should be a place where visitors can go to get the quick and skinny on what you or your company does and can point people toward other related pages, like Yelp, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter or Pinterest. If you’re self-employed, consider this your rent-free virtual storefront.

For companies, web design can be an attractive skill, especially when combined with knowing how to code. It gives your employer another option to promote itself and its product, which ultimately means more profit. (Bosses like profit.) If your boss knows that he or she can call on you to make quick changes to the company’s website, it avoids having to hire a (costly) dedicated web person.

Skill #2: WordPress

If you’re creating a website or blog, knowing how to navigate WordPress can be a nifty skill. This free open-source platform can be used to build everything from a simple blog to a comprehensive e-commerce site. Its dummy-proof 5-Minute Install makes setting up a website easy; you can be up and running in 2-3 hours. And thanks to thousands of plugins, you can tweak your site to do exactly what you want.

WordPress powers 14 percent of the internet, so the odds are pretty good that if a company has a blog, it’s being powered by this popular platform. If you’re in the market for a job, it may give you an edge to start a personal blog and hone your writing skills for a web audience. If you can help build community and bring more visitors to a website, those skills may be marketable to companies, especially small business that don’t have big advertising budgets.

Skill #3: Learn a language

English may be spoken all over the globe, but Spanish and Mandarin still rein supreme for business interactions, with Arabic gaining momentum. Enrollment in Arabic classes jumped 127 percent from 2002-2006, making it the fastest-growing language at U.S. colleges.

Of course, unless you’re planning to jump into a new country and culture and fully immerse yourself, learning a new language is a big commitment. But if you’re looking to work overseas or pursue a position that requires foreign travel, knowing how to speak the local language will be an attractive quality for potential employers. Being able to communicate without a translator means fewer words get lost in translation, and more cultural understanding could mean more business opportunities.

Skill #4: How to sell

Whether you’re selling a concept, product or yourself (and not in the Pretty Woman sense), knowing how to pitch has endless applications in the business world. From convincing your boss to give you a raise to cold calling clients to bring in commissions or revenue, solid selling skills are invaluable when dealing with customers.

If you know how to sell, you know how to ask the right questions and provide service, and that looks good to a potential employer. Sure, it can be nerve-wracking, but with some practice, you’ll gain confidence (another marketable skill that stands out!). If you’re stuck, try recording your voice and pitch and play back for a friend for honest feedback.

Skill #5: Social media

In the old days, a business had to pick up the phone or send a fax or snail mail to reach its audience. Now, a company can connect with a targeted audience 24/7 with a click of a mouse. And don’t you want to help companies do that effectively?

Social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, LinkedIn and blogs greatly influence consumers on trends and ideas, with the ability to reach anyone virtually around the globe with an internet connection. If you can help a small business connect with audiences and create visibility – both online and mobile – these skills are marketable, especially for time-crunched or techphobic employers. Social media is here to stay, and learning about its rapidly-changing landscape is one way to stay relevant.

Charyn Pfeuffer is a food, travel and lifestyle writer and journalist based in Seattle. She can be found on Twitter at @charynpfeuffer.


  1. Jrandom42

    If you’re working in IT, all but number 3 will get you laughed at and publically ridiculed, both in person, and throughout the web.

    In IT, nothing will ever replace completing a complex project successfully, on time and under budget for building “street cred”.

    • Ann Nunnally

      If you don’t know how to sell, you can’t complete a complex project successfully. Anytime you are dealing with other people you are selling: selling your ideas, selling a budget, selling cooperation, etc. Selling is one of the essential skills in any job. You could call it influence, reaching an agreement, or even compromise, but if people don’t believe in you or what you are doing, you will not get anything done.

      • RayJean

        Ann, I completely agree.

        • Jrandom42

          Frankly, I don’t sell. That’s the job of sales and marketing. My job in engineering is to design and architect a solution, install, test, and deliver a successfully working solution on time and under budget according to the agreed upon statement of work.

          If the customer has engaged the sales and marketing team for a solution and they don’t like the solution that I design to their specifications, they still owe us for designing the solution.

          Selling as part of delivering the agreed upon solution is NOT a function of engineering, and having been on the receiving end of a lot of up-selling by engineers delivering an already agreed on solution, I’ve fired them all and gone to competitors who DONT’ ATTEMPT TO SELL ME WHILE EXECUTING A PROJECT!!!

          “That’s the 47th time you’ve tried to sell me on additional services. Tell you what, you go a sell those services to another customer, because you’re fired, and it’s worth it to me to take the loss, just to get rid of your annoying sales pitch. You’re here to deliver what the statement of work spells out, not to sell stuff to me. Get out now!”

          • Ann Nunnally

            Oh, dear Jrandom. I used to be an engineer and worked with so many guys like you. Fortunately, we often got things done in spite of the fact that you totally pissed the customers off. I finally changed careers and became a speech language pathologist. Now I work with children with communication disorders. Some of them have Aspergers syndrome, which means they need help with social skills. It’s a lot like working with some engineers.

          • Jrandom42

            In my line of work, not completing the project is what pisses off the customer, WordPress, web design (unless we’re building a web infrastructure), selling, and social media have no relavenve to implementing enterprise level IT projects.

            It’s a good thing you became a speech language pathologist. You wouldn’t last 30 minutes as a engineer in my company or on my team.

            As for Asperger Syndrome, yes I am a diagnosed adult. And what’s it to you?

  2. Cathy Reisenwitz

    I could not agree with this more. It could all be distilled into 1. Create and design your own personal WordPress site, complete with a blog in your area of expertise. 2. Promote it and yourself via social media. 3. Through the process and at in-person networking and learning events learn how to sell yourself and your products and services. I run an SEO blog and it’s been incredibly effective for me. I have more demand for freelance work than I can meet.

  3. deadhedge

    Why does it feel like every single post on Brazen Careerist tells its readers to start a blog to help their career? Are hiring managers really looking for that much more random information on potential employees? Is someone going to tell their manager to interview someone because “I read their blog?”
    It’s time to put or shut up with the blog strategy. Show me the data. I am not talking about 3 anecdotes about someone you knew who had a blog and got hired. Show me recruiter data that says they use blogs as a recruiting source. Show me company hiring patterns that identify a blog as a source.

  4. Benjamin Schuman

    In the long run, these are all skills that are good to have. But the article would have been more accurately titled, “5 Skills That Will Drastically Improve Your Professional Street-Cred, if You Work in Marketing.”

  5. Anonymous

    Nice post Charyn – it sound like what you’re saying is you just need to set up a personal/professional blog and learn a language. 🙂 I would throw in a #6. Leadership skills. I just did a post on my blog called “The 5 Stages of Tribal Leadership” that is a nice extenuation of this post. Then the questions becomes… what’s your street cred being used for.


    • Charyn Pfeuffer

      Thank you! Great addition and link – leadership always comes in handy!

  6. Sheppa60

    FYI: #1 includes a link to a web design tutorial which includes a table layout, inline styles, AND Comic Sans (three things every web designer knows NOT to use).

  7. Michelle

    Three out of five ain’t bad!

  8. Ann

    If you are a small business owner, you need to have these skills no matter what. In a small business you wear many hats … so the last thing you want to say is “That’s not my job.” Everything is your job! With respect to getting a job or expanding your career … a simple blog can be a gateway to connecting with other professionals and building credibility by demonstrating your knowledge in a particular field of expertise. Self-promotion is not just for marketers. Recently I viewed a blog by financial planner who lives in my city–the guy knows his stuff. He has simple, professional blog that has information I find interesting. If I want to choose a financial planner among a slew professsionals out there, who do you think I may call for help first? I have a blog for the same reason … former college professors subscribe to my blog as well as other education professionals. I want those folks in my court as I build my business.

  9. Alan cruiser

    actually blogging is a good option to start as a career. Nice tips on the article.

  10. Aubrey

    working on spanish 😉

  11. Cranes

    It really all comes down to #4. If you are able to sell, you will always be able to find work.

  12. Hochzeitskleid

    thank u for sharing

  13. Adrian Love

    I would also add #7: Ability to build an argument. This sort of goes under selling, but if you can’t effectively build an argument, regardless of your role in a business, you can’t initiate new projects or ideas. You will always be working on someone else’s idea instead of your’s.

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