People don't want to hire designers, they want to hire people. Confident, competent people that fit in with their team, their project, or their vision. They're looking for a date, you and I are the prospects.
When it comes down to it employers looking to fill positions are not in the mood to take a risk. Either someone gave two weeks notice, someone was fired, or a new position has been opened up because more help is needed. Their job, in that moment, is to fill a position quickly and efficiently with someone of value.
So how are we positioning ourselves as a person of value? If you advertise yourself as a competent designer with a skill in "branding"—great—but you know what, so do almost 1,000 other California designers. You are now just one more resumé in an overflowing inbox.
The most important thing is to see work that is honest and interesting and complicated, nobody's going to care about how big the distributor or what you shot it on if it doesn't have an idea beyond just "I'm a modern person using modern technology."
-Lena Dunham, HBO Girls
Relevant skills are no longer what qualify you for a job, your skills are expected. It is your added value and creativity that we want to see. For only then can we adequately gauge if you are the right fit for the position.
If you are uncertain about your value, don't fret—you're not alone. Many of us are slowly working that out from project to project, from job to job, every experience helping us narrow down our personal value proposition, learning along the way how to communicate it more efficiently. Over time you will learn, clarity is the best way to separate yourself from the masses.
People don't want to hire designers, they want to hire people.
If you have questions or comments regarding this post, email me firstname.lastname@example.org—I'd love to hear from you!