Increasing Your Marketability

Standing out as a qualified candidate requires much more than a college degree. In order to increase your odds of landing an interview, it is important to supplement your education with experiences and skills sought by employers in your chosen field.

In addition to your UW–Madison education, there are many types of experiences that will help you stand out as a qualified applicant. It is important to note that not all industries value the same experiences or skills equally.  For example, while healthcare professions may value volunteer experience, many business professions do not place the same importance on volunteer experiences unless highly relevant.

Your Academic & Career Advisor is always happy to assist you with strategizing ways to increase your marketability!

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Marketable Skills & Experiences

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Relevant On-The-Job Experience

This can be gained either through an internship or your actual work.

Often times, if you are working in a role that is less relevant to your career goals, you can discuss taking on a task or project at work more closely related to your goals. Managers are often very supportive of their employee’s professional growth and happy to have you take on an additional task which may even benefit them too!

Participation in Professional Organizations

This is a great way to demonstrate on your resume that you are interested in a particular industry. Additionally, these professional organizations may provide skill development opportunities or help you build your professional network in that field or industry.

Volunteer Work

While many people volunteer at a local nursing home or food pantry, many nonprofit organizations also seek volunteers to help with more administrative tasks. If you email a volunteer coordinator for an organization and explain the types of skills you’re hoping to use, they may come up with a special volunteer project just for you! This is a great way to get some initial experience in a new area.


These can be class projects, personal projects, or any type of project that is using relevant skills or completing with you may want to do in your chosen career.

Many people can make their own projects up for fun to demonstrate a skill they have.  Employers love to hear about this and admire the initiative taken to start a personal project. Don’t be afraid to talk about it in an interview!

Hard & Soft Skills

Developing your hard and soft skills can increase your marketability, but you should be strategic in the ones you develop and improve upon. Below, you will find many great resources for developing your skills and identifying the ones you need.

Through your MyUW page, you have free access to Linkedin Learning. This site is a powerful tool to help you develop a variety of skills that are likely valued in your ideal career.

Identifying Skills & Experiences Needed

There are many techniques you should use to identify how to be the most marketable candidate. Every field requires different types of skills, experiences, and more. Below, you will learn about several common methods to identify the skills and experiences you need:

A skills gap analysis is a process used to help you identify the skills and experiences you need to acquire to be marketable for your next role. By comparing the skills and experiences you currently have to those which the employer is seeking, you will be able to identify any gaps you currently have. To conduct a skills gap analysis, simply find several job descriptions for roles you may be interested in. Ideally, these roles are at companies you would want to work for. The more focused you are during this process, the better. Below, you will see an example of a job description’s list of qualifications.

Junior Financial Advisor job post example with several requirements listed: four year, bachelors degree; strong interest in financial markets and investments; exceptional communication, networking, interpersonal, organizational and problem-solving skills; competitive and results-oriented nature; demonstrated ability to cultivate relationships; exhibited ability to sell oneself; strong work ethic, discipline, enthusiasm, and perseverance

As you read through the job description, ask yourself “can I provide a concrete example of how I have demonstrated this skill, qualification, or experience?” If the answer is no, write that skill or experience down. As the list grows, you will now have a list of the skills and experiences you need to acquire next.

Another great way to identify the skills and experiences needed to land your next career goal is by speaking with people currently doing that work! This is known as an informational interview. On the Networking page, you will learn about identifying individuals of interest and how to reach out to conduct an informational interview.

During your informational interview, consider asking the following questions to identify skills and qualifications you may need:

  • What credentials, degrees, licenses, etc. are required for entry into this field?

  • What kind of skills and prior experiences would be good background for someone starting out?

  • What are some skills that have proven important in your job that you did not anticipate?

  • What skills or experiences will I need to develop to make myself more competitive?

  • What professional associations or organizations should I know about?

  • What advice do you have for me as I try to break into this field?

Through MyUW, you have free access to Linkedin Learning – a powerful tool to help you develop a variety of skills that are likely valued in your ideal career.