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Job-seekers always wish they could unlock the secret formula to winning the hearts and minds of potential employers.

What is that unique combination of skills and values that would make employers want to hire you on the spot?

International surveys of employers show they value skill sets such as communication, critical thinking and problem solving more than specific majors (Hart Research Associates, 2013; National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2012).

Sure, every employer focuses on a particular set of skills and abilities based on the particular requirements of its company and the particular job it offers.

But beyond these – certain ‘soft’ or peripheral skills are universally sought by every employer.

Usually, the candidate feels confident about his professional background and skills, but where soft skills, personality and behaviour are concerned most start to feel uncertain.

Most candidates possess these skills to some extent, but if you are not feeling confident enough you should consider further training, professional development, or coaching/mentoring.

Employers continue to look for assurances that you can in some way either make money for them or save money for them. Skills useful in saving money are universally desired.

No matter which niche you occupy in the workplace — technician or green-collar worker, professional or manager — mastering these top skills employers are willing to pay you for, translate to a wonderful employment insurance policy, and a safety net during economic downturns.

The top five critical skills needed for any job interview, be it a first job, bidding for a higher position in the company, or opting for a brand new career are….

Strong Communication skills (written, verbal, listening)

By far, the skill mentioned most often by employers, is the ability to listen, write, and speak effectively – they all noted successful communication is critical in business.

Since employers continually seek candidates who can demonstrate that they possess exceptional speaking, listening, and writing skills these skills are really indispensable.

Candidates need to know how to speak, how to support arguments by referring to evidence from empirical research, and how to sustain a coherent speech.

Exceptional listener who effectively conveys information verbally and in writing.

Written communication is extremely important, especially when the email is the main tool for internal and external communication in the professional environment.

The bottom line is that if you can communicate well (and have the ability to showcase this) you have a leg-up on the competition.

There are several ways in which you can communicate your proficiency in this area. One might be…

This particular skill crosses all industries and professions, so developing it will significantly help you in your job search as well as in advancement throughout your career.

Research, analytical thinking and analysis

Scrutinizing, identifying, improving, and streamlining complex work processes through highly analytical, logical thinking and analysis.

Your ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed are critically important.

Being able to gather information and understand multiple perspectives is critical to moving up in your career. And since every potential employer, regardless of the profession, is seeking employees who can help them to solve problems – the more that you can showcase your abilities in this area will certainly catch their attention.

Related to this is the above skill set – communication. You can have excellent analytical/research skills, but if you cannot communicate well enough, your skills are of no benefit to you.

The ability to solve problems through creativity and a logical thought process will make you a very valuable member of the team. From handling customer complaints to managing a small or large group of people, these skills are a must

Computer and Technical Literacy

Regardless of your profession just about every job requires a basic understanding of computer hardware and software, especially word processing, spreadsheets, and email. Your ability to showcase your proficiency with technology and its applications are crucial in the information age.

Acquiring skills beyond these can be extremely beneficial. Learning desktop publishing, internet publishing (blogs, etc.), internet commerce, and the ability to keep up with mainstream technology (software and hardware) will help you remain competitive in the job market and might give you an edge over other candidates.

Interpersonal Skills

They are indispensable in the modern working environment, where the teamwork and the cooperation mechanisms of the team set to meet a common goal are emphasised.

These skills help the candidate to relate to those around him, to understand them and, last but not least, to manage conflicts. This ability is among the first ones to be identified in an interview.

Leadership and management

Regardless of the position, leadership skills are important. Even on an entry-level position, an employee may be put in the situation of taking the initiative for coordinating his co-workers in a particular project.

The leader is results-oriented and regardless of the position he occupies, he will manage to create a work competitive and productive work environment.


Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities

Or in other words… MULTI-TASKING!

Flexible team player who thrives in environments requiring ability to effectively prioritize and juggle multiple concurrent projects.

Society today demands proficiency in this area. Your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments are absolutely critical. This skill is difficult to articulate at times because it has become so much of a part of our everyday life.

Multicultural sensitivity

It is an important skill in multinational companies where the relationship with people from other cultures is a main component of the day to day operations.

This ability is formed either by learning from direct contact with people from other cultures, either by studying cultural particularities of each cultural group.

The second option is recommended to avoid possible communication errors. Some cultures are very sensitive to certain gestures or signs that they may translate as a major offense, even if the intention was not to send a negative message. One such multicultural communication error can jeopardize a business relationship to the loss of all parties involved.

Other important skills include:

  • Teamwork
  • Planning and Organising
  • Decision Making
  • Strong work ethic
  • Motivation and initiative
  • Dependable
  • Conscientiousness
  • Honesty/Integrity/Morality
  • Dedication/Hard-Working/Tenacity
  • Dependability/Reliability/Responsibility
  • Loyalty
  • Positive Attitude/Motivation/Energy/Passion
  • Professionalism
  • Self-Confidence
  • Self-starter
  • Self-Motivated
  • Willingness to Learn

These are skills that employers want you to have regardless of the type of job and knowledge base skills (Hard skills) that a particular job might require.

To the employer, someone who can show that they have these skills will be able to learn and grow in a job, get along with co-workers and will be a long-term asset for their organisation.