Desired Skill Sets

You look through a series of job postings and they all seem to say the same things:

  • teamwork/team player
  • analytical skills
  • good communication skills
  • time management
  • etc.

So what are hiring managers really looking for in candidates?  NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) puts out an annual survey of the most desired skills sought be recruiters in candidates, and the usual suspects are on the list as listed above.  The top 5 for 2011:

  1. Verbal Communication Skills
  2. Strong Work Ethic
  3. Teamwork Skills
  4. Analytical Skills
  5. Initiative

It should be noted that no employer is going to hire someone just because the candidate has good time teamwork skills.  Rather, this list of ‘desired’ skills assume that the candidate already has the technical or ‘hard’ skills for the job, and these ‘soft’ skills are the difference makers.  In other words, the ability to do the job is the minimum starting point and the soft skills (the how you will do your job) separates candidates the employers want to hire.

After speaking with a number of hiring managers, a couple of skill sets seem to separate candidates from their competition.  The ability to write well is a skill that is valued in employees and that is in short supply among candidates.  There are many applicants out there who are fine writers, but those who are strong get noticed by decision makers.  Another skill that is desired is something hard to define.  Hiring managers often said they like to hire individuals with whom they would be comfortable putting in front of a client.  When pressed, they mentioned this as being a combination of maturity, professionalism, awareness, good communicator, and an ability to build trust/build relationships.

For those who are on the hiring side of the table – what skills do you really like to see in candidates that seem to be in short supply?  And those who are on the want-to-be-hired side of the table, what soft skills do you see as being asked about in your interviews? I want to hear from you!


About Kevin Monahan

I have 10+ years experience in coaching clients in their career management and career change efforts. Personal career consulting services combined with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituents.
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