Most job-seekers wish they could unlock the secret
formula to winning the hearts and minds of employers.
What, they wonder, is that unique combination of skills
and values that make employers salivate with excitement?
Every employer is looking for a specific set of skills from
job-seekers that match the skills necessary to perform a
particular job. But beyond these job-specific technical
skills, certain skills are nearly universally sought by
employers. The good news is that most job-seekers
possess these skills to some extent. The better news is
that job-seekers with weaknesses in these areas can
improve their skills through training, professional
development, or obtaining coaching/mentoring from
someone who understands these skills.
The best news is that once you understand the skills and
characteristics that most employer seek, you can tailor
your job-search communication -- your CV, cover letter,
and interview language -- to showcase how well your
background aligns with common employer requirements.
Numerous studies have identified these critical
employability skills, sometimes referred to as "soft skills."
We've distilled the skills from these many studies into this
list of skills most frequently mentioned. We've also
included sample verbiage describing each skill; job-
seekers can adapt this verbiage to their CVs, cover letters,
and interview talking points.
So, what are these critical employability skills that
employers demand of job-seekers?
Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written). By far,
the one skill mentioned most often by employers is the
ability to listen, write, and speak effectively. Successful
communication is critical in business.
Analytical/Research Skills.Deals with your ability to
assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather
more information if necessary, and identify key issues that
need to be addressed.
Computer/Technical Literacy.Almost all jobs now require
some basic understanding of computer hardware and
software, especially word processing, spreadsheets, and
Interpersonal Skills.The ability to relate to your co-
workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict
with co-workers is essential given the amount of time
spent at work each day.
Leadership/Management Skills. While there is some
debate about whether leadership is something people are
born with, these skills deal with your ability to take charge
and manage your co-workers.
Planning/Organizing. Deals with your ability to design,
plan, organize, and implement projects and tasks within
an allotted timeframe. Also involves goal-setting.
Problem-Solving/Reasoning/Creativity. Involves the
ability to find solutions to problems using your creativity,
reasoning, and past experiences along with the available
information and resources.
Teamwork. Because so many jobs involve working in one
or more work-groups, you must have the ability to work
with others in a professional manner while attempting to
achieve a common goal.
Honesty/Integrity/Morality. Employers probably respect
personal integrity more than any other value, especially in
light of the many recent corporate scandals.
Adaptability/Flexibility. Deals with openness to new ideas
and concepts, to working independently or as part of a
team, and to carrying out multiple tasks or projects.
Employers seek job-seekers who love what they do and
will keep at it until they solve the problem and get the job
Professionalism. Deals with acting in a responsible and
fair manner in all your personal and work activities, which
is seen as a sign of maturity and self-confidence; avoid
Self-Confidence. Look at it this way: if you don't believe in
yourself, in your unique mix of skills, education, and
abilities, why should a prospective employer? Be confident
in yourself and what you can offer employers.
Self-Motivated/Ability to Work With Little or No
Supervision. While teamwork is always mentioned as an
important skill, so is the ability to work independently, with
Willingness to Learn. No matter what your age, no matter
how much experience you have, you should always be
willing to learn a new skill or technique. Jobs are
constantly changing and evolving, and you must show an
openness to grow and learn with that change.
Final Thoughts on Employability Skills and Values
Employability skills and personal values are the critical
tools and traits you need to succeed in the workplace --
and they are all elements that you can learn, cultivate,
develop, and maintain over your lifetime. Once you have
identified the sought-after skills and values and assessed
the degree to which you possess, them remember to
document them and market them (in your resume, cover
letter, and interview answers) for job-search success.