It’s no secret that the job market is becoming increasingly competitive and difficult to navigate. Creating a name for yourself in your industry and becoming successful is no easy task. Professional development is a skill you’ll have to continuously work on, even outside of work, in order to get the job you want in the industry you are passionate about. To help you get started with this tricky task, here are some tips to stay marketable.

  1. Take Classes and Get Certifications

There are endless opportunities to take classes online to learn a new skill or get certified in something relevant to your industry. Find online classes that pique your interest and will be helpful in your field, and sign up. Carve out time in your schedule each week to dedicate to learning. Becoming a lifelong learner is an incredibly useful and smart quality to have.

  1. Join a Professional Association

Almost every industry has a professional association connected to it that allows members to join and receive benefits, such as networking events, professional conferences and mentoring programs. You may have to pay dues each year in order to join, but it will be well worth it. Being part of a professional association looks great on a resume or business card, opens you up to multiple opportunities to get involved and get ahead, and will introduce you to the top dogs in your industry.

  1. Network

Even if you don’t join a professional association, networking is probably the best thing you can do for yourself while trying to make yourself more marketable. Attending conferences, reaching out to people on LinkedIn and expanding your network through friends of friends can make or break you when it comes to a job search. Knowing the right people can expose you to the perfect opportunities and give you a leg up on the competition at just the right time.

  1. Discover and Create Content

Blogs, professional journals and social media open up the world to anybody who wants to get their thoughts out there. As a professional in your industry, you most likely have some insights that other people would love to get their hands on. Submit articles to professional journals, write guest posts for blogs or even start your own blog. Getting published is a big benefit to your professional development and will help you build a portfolio you can show to potential employers in the future.

  1. Clean up Your Social Media

Social media is often one of the first things potential employers look at, so make sure all your channels are updated, accurate and reflect your best self. Keep all your pages professional, showing off your love for your industry and the best side of yourself. You can also use social media to make connections. This works especially well on LinkedIn, but can be done on other networks as well.

  1. Take on a Challenge

Don’t be afraid to step up and take on a new project at work that is outside of your comfort zone. You may find something you’re really interested in or discover a skill you never knew you had. Plus, this will make you stand out to your supervisor and maybe help you get a promotion if that’s what you’re looking for.

  1. Find a Mentor

Finding a mentor who started where you are and got to where you want to be can be extremely beneficial as you climb the corporate ladder. To successfully build a mentor relationship, find just one or two people who you really look up to and can trust and ask them to be your professional mentor. The two of you can decide exactly what that relationship will look like based on your industry and personalities, but make sure you meet regularly to discuss what you’re doing and get advice and feedback.

Using these tips, you can stay marketable and begin your climb to the top of your industry. Remember to stay professional, keep making contacts and stay focused on your ultimate career objective. With just a little bit of work and dedication, you can reach even your biggest goals.

Anum Yoon is a personal finance blogger who runs Current on Currency. She strives to share practical money tips to college students and recent grads. Sign up for her weekly money newsletter here.