Do you know what skills employers are looking for?

Cover Story, Editorial, Features

Vol. 25, Issue 04, 30 September 2022

In today’s world of work, it is just as important to know what employers are looking for beyond your experience and basic skill set. Knowing the characteristics of what makes a good leader or team player are as essential as having the right qualification for the position.

Anyone can be a leader if they want to be

Employers today are obviously looking for people who can do the job they are employed to do, according to their experience, basic skills, and qualifications. But equally important are the willingness and ability to learn whilst working. Being a digital native is one thing, but what if you don’t have the innate ability to communicate or learn new skills required in the workplace? What about those of us not brought up on digital technology? Are we then going to lose out to digital whizzkids [sic]?

Well not according to the vast majority of employers out there. With the plethora of digital technology used in the workplace today, and the constant need to update and replace existing systems, it is understandably hard to keep up, even for those used to workplace technology. Employers are then more interested in employees that are not afraid to learn to use the technological tools offered even if they have never used them before. Also employers like employees that take the initiative to deepen their understanding and look for new means of using technology to better their work and that of others, including their employer. Looking to use technology to improve efficiency and effectiveness shows motivation and dedication to the employment and the employer.

Look for and develop all of those soft skills.

What if you are not necessarily that inclined towards technology or that it is of no relevance in your work? No problem, employers are also looking for soft skills just as much. The ability to communicate ideas to others is an important trait to own, or if you feel you don’t own it, you can hone it! We are all communicators, we wouldn’t survive without having some means of communication, but some are obviously better at it that others. If you find that communication is something you struggle with, look to improve where you are lacking. Employers are more willing to support employees that are looking to improve themselves especially when it will be of benefit to the employer.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your own characteristics that might at first seem irrelevant to the actual work. In addition to communication being a desirable train, being able to really listen to others is just as good. Taking that further we find some people have the trait to really understand more than what is being said, being empathetic is a good trait to have, some people are born with it, but we all have it. Tapping into this trait is something that can benefit your understanding of others. How many times have you asked a friend or someone close to you “what’s wrong?” before they have even said something? That shows empathy and that you can pick up on others feelings, some again are much better at this than others. The other day I heard Erin Mayer say at the Nordic business forum how in Japan you need to “read the air” when interacting with others. Basically, understanding not what is being said but what is not being said.

Sometimes you need to read between the lines to understand the whole

Other characteristics employers seem to be keen on are flexibility, adaptability, and creativity. Being flexible to the job requirements and adapting to changing conditions is sometimes something we have to accept or not as the case may be. These are skills or rather traits that we generally have or don’t have. It is difficult to be creative and paint the Mona Lisa if you feel that you are not a creative and artistic person, but have you ever tried? Creativity sometimes needs a spark to ignite it, and it doesn’t have to be anything artistic. Having creative ideas and solutions can sometimes come out of the air, especially in brainstorming sessions – leave it to others to create the artwork to go with your insightful and creative ideas if that is not where your talent lies! Again something I saw at the Nordic Business Forum last week was from Duncan Wardle, the use of “naïve experts” especially in meetings and specialised teams. The idea of introducing someone into a team that has no experience or knowledge of what is being discussed might seem a little crazy, but usually these are the ones that will come up with the crazy and outlandish ideas and suggestions that the “rational thinkers” would never come up with – and this is what we sometimes need. A phrase that has often been used in the past is “thinking outside the box”, but I like Duncan’s “naïve experts” more.

Just because your not a member of the band and don’t play an instrument, they still need you, a band needs listeners to enjoy their music.

So, whether you are looking to start your first career journey, or improve the one you are already following, take stock of yourself, look not just at your acquired skillset but also at your innate traits and characteristics, perform a self SWOT analysis to see what your strengths and weaknesses are, develop those strengths and improve on those weaknesses. Above all, read between the lines of those job advertisements, and in the air around what your employer is saying, you might find some new inspiration and creativity, you might even surprise yourself.