What skills are most important to employers? Which skills motivate them to choose the candidates they hire?
There are some skills and qualities employers seek in all their employees, regardless of the position. These are called soft skills, and they include the interpersonal skills and attributes you need to succeed in the workplace. They are also commonly referred to as professional skills, those that maintain a healthy workplace environment.
In addition to soft skills, there are other, more tangible or technical skills that most projects require. These are called hard skills, and they are the specific knowledge and abilities required to do the job. You’ll need both hard and soft skills for any job, and it's important to show employers that you have the combination of hybrid skills they need when you're applying and interviewing for jobs.
In order to get your application noticed, be sure to incorporate in your resume and cover letter the skills you have that are required for the position. Also, highlight your most relevant skills during job interviews by being able to provide real-life examples.
Top Skills Employers Look For
While this list is not exhaustive, these are some of the top skills employers say are most important when recruiting and hiring employees.
Employees need to be able to confront a problem, think it through, and decisively apply solutions. These are known as analytical skills. The level of analytical skills required will vary, depending on the job and the industry. Closely aligned with analytical skills, employees are expected to organize, plan, and prioritize effectively.
The ability to communicate effectively — both verbally and in writing — is both essential and rare. Those with strong communication skills are in high demand, regardless of the job or industry. You need to be able to communicate successfully with employees, managers, and customers inperson, online, in writing, and/or over the phone.
- Top 10 Communication Skills
- List of Communication Skills
- Verbal Communication Skills
- Nonverbal Communication Skills
- Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Skills
Interpersonal skills, also known as people skills, are the skills you use to interact and engage with others. Many are hired quickly based purely on their ability to connect with people. Interpersonal skills can (at times) trump the other skills employers are seeking, so be sure yours are up to par.
Your interpersonal skills will be evaluated during job interviews, so be sure you prepare for the interview. You can develop the emotional intelligence and self-awareness you need to connect with a hiring team.
When companies hire for leadership roles, they seek employees that can successfully interact with employees, colleagues, and customers. Even if you're not applying for management jobs, leadership is a valuable skill to bring to the employer. Many companies prefer to promote from within, and as such, they often look for strong leadership qualities, even when hiring for entry-level positions.
Attitude may not be everything, but it’s extremely valuable. Employers want employees that are positive even in stressful and challenging circumstances. Positivity denotes your level of resilience. Employers want to hire applicants with a “can do” attitude that are flexible, dedicated, and willing to contribute extra effort to get the job done in the face of challenges.
Regardless of the job, employers want to hire people that are team players — people that are cooperative and work well with others. They don’t want employees that are difficult to work with. When you are interviewing, be sure to share examples of how you worked well on a team. Your level of teamwork indicates your ability to collaborate effectively with a wide variety of people.
The technical skills you need will vary, of course, depending on the job. However, most positions require at least some technical skills. This includes experience using industry software, completing higher-level education (such as college degrees or vocational certifications), or being experienced at highly-specific tasks.
More Important Skills
These days, technology shapes the world we live in. That's why many employers want the people they hire to come already equipped with certain technological skills.
Scan any of the job postings online, and you'll probably notice a trend: technological skills are vitally important.
If you lack technological skills within your industry, it's a good time to brush up on the following skills:
Social media skills: If you're working in a specific field that involves communications, you'll likely need to sharpen your social media skills. This doesn't just mean learning how to use the platforms, though. You should also know how to use social media sites effectively, and employers often ask you to demonstrate that you are a “power user” of a particular social media channel. Learning how to get your message across on social media will help make you an attractive candidate.
Computer skills: Having at least some computer skills is a given in almost any job out there. Most jobs now require some computer literacy, whether using Word, Excel, or even more advanced software. If there's specific software that a company is using, you'll probably get trained on it. This may include content management systems (CMSs) or specific data entry tools. If you are not experienced in all the software programs highlighted in the job posting, it would be helpful to demonstrate to the employer your ability to learn new software quickly.
Problem solving skills: This may seem a little like analytical or interpersonal skills, but problem-solving is often considered a separate skill. You may have to deal with problems arising that require a quick response and resolution. Being able to think on your feet and solve problems at a moment's notice is an important asset every employer longs for.
Showcase Your Skills
To be sure you are showing your top skills during your job search, make a list of the skills and qualities that best reflect your background. Incorporate them into your resume and cover letters.
Also think of real-life examples where you applied these skills to achieve success on the job, in the classroom, or in volunteer work. Share these examples with your interviewer so they know exactly how much of an asset you will be when you're hired.
If you’re switching jobs or industries, you’ll need to focus on the skills that are transferable from your old position to the new one.
Skill sharing has become increasingly popular, allowing people to connect online or in their communities, and to exchange useful tips, valuable information, and invaluable skills. Find out how skill sharing can help you upgrade your skills.