Job Hunting: Are skills the be-all and end-all?
September 10, 2015
You’ve spent four years at university, graduated Cum Laude and you have three years’ work experience. Technically you’re seriously overshadowing your fellow job seekers, so this new position should be in the bag?
The only glitch is that you’re the one candidate who didn’t get the call for a second interview. What are you missing?
What many job seekers today do not realise is that there are qualities that go beyond skills and experience that many employers hold in high regard, and without them, you could be overlooked.
This can cause obvious confusion for well-educated candidates with multiple years of experience relevant to the position. The good news is that you may very well already have some of these secret weapons in your arsenal. So what are some of those magical qualities that will help land you the job you want? The answers may surprise you.
- High energy
Employers are looking for an individual who is hard-working, enthusiastic and needs little motivation to get the job done. No one wants to hire the guy who needs his hand held through every step of the process. So make sure that the impression you’re making is a lasting one, from the way you dress to how you greet everyone when you arrive.
It goes without saying that to stand a chance of getting the job you want, you need to believe that you can. Confidence also shows that you can handle any situation with composure and control. It lets your employers feel like they can trust you to do the job and to do it well.
Along with confidence comes assertiveness. An employer wants to know that you are able to make decisions in a confident and non-aggressive manner. This means that you are able to take a stance and speak up for yourself in a way that is positive and respectful towards your peers.
Persuasiveness involves being able to convince others of your viewpoint. Be clear about what you want to accomplish and why by providing concrete proof to back up your reasons. Also, if you want to persuade another person to do or think something, you need to believe that it’s right. The more confidence you can demonstrate, the more convincing you will be.
- Leadership ability
Whether you’re applying for an entry-level position or wishing to be promoted to a managerial role, leadership qualities are always in demand. An employer looks for someone who can lead by example, be positive and encourage others, motivate themselves, know when to follow instructions and when to show initiative.
The ability to use creativity, reasoning, past experience, information and available resources to resolve an issue is valuable because it can save the organisation time and money. It could be useful to highlight this particular skill to your prospective employer by providing an example of a difficult situation and how you addressed it.
- Strong communicator
This is one of the most sought after qualities in any employee. Effective communicators interact easily with colleagues, listen and understand instructions, and are able to voice an opinion without coming across as aggressive. Whether it’s handling conflict or speaking to a client, good communication skills help you to develop constructive working relationships and deal with tricky situations in a controlled and effective manner.
- Attention to detail
A fast-paced and demanding workplace environment can make it difficult to pay close attention to detail but overlooking important elements can be costly and detrimental to the quality of the work at hand. Are you able to notice things that others may overlook?
- Corporate Fit
This is the trickiest one because it could be out of your control completely. No matter how suitable you are for the position, if the employer doesn’t believe that you’re a cohesive fit for the company, you can probably guess there won’t be a follow-up meeting. ‘Fit’ can refer to anything from your managerial or leadership style to your personality, behaviour, mind-set, personal presentation, ethics, worldview and adaptability. It’s probably the most important quality because a poor hiring decision could be costly for the company. Hiring someone who doesn’t fit the company culture can lead to internal polarisation, work force disruption, loss of key staff and loss of revenue.
Skills, education and experience are obviously crucial for employment, but these competences are now viewed in conjunction with “softer” skills to ensure a more successful fit. Even experienced executives in line for promotion have been passed over due to a lack of leadership ability and confidence.
In order to compete effectively in a highly competitive job market, you need to adapt to changing employment criteria. The job market is not the same place it was 10 years ago and similarly, the requirements for entering into it have changed.
So what can you do to increase your chances of receiving a call-back? The fact is that it’s difficult to know what skills you need until it’s pointed out to you. Gaining self-awareness enables you to find out exactly which proficiencies you need and this immediately gives you the upper hand. A candidate who is aware of his or her shortcomings and shows an interest in developing them is far more attractive than one who isn’t.
Invest in extra courses or sessions with an experienced life coach who can highlight these areas and help you develop the skills that ensure you don’t get overlooked for appointments and promotions. No matter where you stand on the wage scale, it’s never too late to become a better version of yourself.
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