Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crystal ball so you could “see” what magical combination of knowledge, skills and abilities that employers are looking for in candidates? I think we could all agree that having such abilities would certainly help as we interview for positions, right? Kind of like having the answers to the test as we study.
Well, hopefully this article can serve as an “answer key” for you as you prepare your resume or get ready for interviews.
We know that every employer is looking for a specific set of skills from job-seekers that match the skills necessary to perform a particular job. But time and time again, interviewing managers have stated that they rarely focus solely on the listed attributes listed on the position description. It is expected that if you are applying for the position that you have the minimal basic skill set needed to perform the position. A first-review of the resume usually allows the hiring manager to access this. So the question still remains…what is it that employers are looking for?
There are certain skills and attributes that are universally sought by employers. Most likely you possess one or more of these attributes which is certainly good news! Even better news is that the attributes that employers seek are those that you can improve upon through training, professional development, or obtaining coaching/mentoring from someone who understands these skills.
Once you understand the skills and attributes that most employers seek, you can tailor your job-search marketing and communications (your resume, cover letter, and interview language) — to highlight how well your background aligns with common employer requirements.
There have been numerous studies have identified these critical employability skills, sometimes referred to as “soft skills” or “transferrable skills”. The following are some of the most frequently motioned skills from hiring managers. I have also provided some samples of how you can highlight these attributes in your resume, cover letter and interview talking points.
So here are the “Top 10” skills desired by hiring managers and some ways in which you can enhance your abilities in the specific areas…
1. Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written). The ability to effectively communicate is by far, the one skill mentioned most frequently by employers. Having the ability to listen, write, speak effectively and facilitate communication are absolutely critical in whatever profession you are engaged in. The bottom line is that if you can communicate well (and have the ability to showcase this) you have a leg-up on the competition.
There are several ways in which you can communicate your proficiency in this area. One might be…
• Exceptional listener and communicator who effectively conveys information verbally and in writing.
In each area of your resume be sure to list successes and proficiencies in the areas of writing, listening, and speaking. You can also highlight how you facilitate communication between others.
As you progress in the interviewing process, it will become more important for you to be able to communicate your skills to potential employers in this area through non-verbal communication as well. For example, take notes and engage in good eye-contact with those that you meet. Your body language will speak volumes about your communication style without you ever saying a word.
If you feel that this is an area that you need to improve your skills, I offer the following suggestions…
Join Toastmasters International – Most likely there is a chapter of this organization near you. Go and check it out. What you will see are individuals who are trying to perfect their public speaking abilities. The ability to speak and communicate ideas in front of a group of individuals
Read, read, read… On of the best ways that you can increase your communication skills is to read about it! There are literally thousands of books and articles out there that you can pick up. Of if you choose…head to the library and check them out for free!
Work on it… Communication, like any other skill is one that you absolutely need to practice in order to excel at it. No one is “born” a great communicator. With someone you know and trust, ask for them to practice with you. The more you listen, read, speak and engage in non-verbal communication, the better you will become at this vital skill.
2. Analytical & Research Skills. Your ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed are critically important. Since every potential employer, regardless of the profession, is seeking employees who can help them to solve problems the more that you can showcase your abilities in this area will certainly catch their attention.
Here is a suggestion of how you can communicate this on your resume:
• Demonstrated talent for identifying, scrutinizing, improving, and streamlining complex work processes through highly analytical thinking and analysis.
As you progress in the application process it will be important for you to showcase your ability to devise solutions to complex problems. Make sure you have some good “story” examples of how you have done this in previous positions you have held. Your ability to effectively communicate your skills in this area can be directly related to the skill development we discussed in #1 above.
How to increase your analytical & research Skills…
Work on math problems. I know it sounds elementary, but solving math problems (without a calculator) is a good way to kick-start that analytical side of your brain.
Read something difficult. For example, find a how to book at the library that is focused on something you know little or nothing about. Maybe the subject has something to do with computers or maybe horticulture. The subject matter is irrelevant, what is relevant is that you are using your brain to learn something new. You are researching a subject and using your analytical side of your brain to figure out complex problems.
3. Computer & Technical Literacy. Regardless of your profession just about every job requires a basic understanding of computer hardware and software, especially word processing, spreadsheets, and email. Your ability to showcase your proficiency with technology and its applications are crucial in the information age.
Sample bullet point describing this skill:
• Computer-literate performer with extensive software proficiency covering wide variety of applications.
Obviously, if you are in a profession that relies on specific computer knowledge and proficiency, you will need to highlight those specifics on your resume and within your cover letter.
To increase your computer literacy check out your local community college. Most will offer community learning classes at a minimal cost. If you are already fairly proficient in the area of computers or the technology needed in your industry, take it to the next level by engaging in advanced learning of one or more of the applications needed in your industry. Become a self-taught expert!
4. Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities. Or in other words… MULTI-TASKING! Society today demands proficiency in this area. Your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments are absolutely critical. This skill is difficult to articulate at times because it has become so much of a part of our everyday life. But articulate it you must if you are going to secure the position you want.
Sample bullet point describing this skill:
• Flexible team player who thrives in environments requiring ability to effectively prioritize and juggle multiple concurrent projects.
My suggestion is to highlight not only that you are an effective multi-tasker, but that you also thrive in an environment of change. I know you have all heard the old saying “There are only two certainties in life…death and taxes”, well you might as well add one more certainty… CHANGE. Make sure that you have stories for the interview that focus on your ability to effectively adapt to a changing environment and also be able to discuss situations in which you initiated change.
In order to increase you abilities in this area you really need to take a hard look at yourself and how you handle yourself under the pressure of multi-tasking. Be sure that you have very detailed examples and can communicate them effectively to a potential employer. Remember to focus on the positives of the situations you discuss.
5. Interpersonal Abilities. This one is very similar to your ability to communicate, but is specific to the ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict with co-workers. With the amount of time that we spend “at work” each day these are essential attributes.
Sample bullet point describing this skill:
• Proven relationship-builder with unsurpassed interpersonal skills.
Like the other skill sets listed here, this one is probably the most difficult to quantify. But quantify it you must. My suggestion is to make sure that at least a couple of your bullet points include information regarding collaboration with co-workers, group participation/facilitation and leading of teams and/or initiatives in previous working environments.
Here is another opportunity for you to read and study. There are literally thousands of books and articles about interpersonal communication. Do whatever you can to increase your EQ (emotional intelligence) as well as your IQ (intelligence quotient). Doing so will only increase your employability.
So there you have it…the first 5 skills desired by hiring managers.
Now that you have read about “Top 10″ Skills Desired By Hiring Managers, Part 1 , may we suggest that you take the next step and check out “Top 10″ Skills Desired By Hiring Managers, Part 2. It is important to us that we are able to help people as they recover and prosper after job loss, so please contact us with suggestions, corrections, and even your personal experiences. If you found this article or video to be helpful, we’d love for you to share it with a friend. Also, be sure to check out all of the amazing resources for your career transition in the ILostMyJob.com Book Store!
By Robert Shindell