How to Showcase Important Job Skills in a Letter

After pinpointing the skills that sell your value for your job application letter, how do you know which of those skills most help you stand out from the crowd?

A roundup of several surveys suggests skills and qualities that employers often admire. The following list is representative but not comprehensive:

  • Effective communication: Employers seek candidates who can listen to instructions and act on them with minimal guidance. They want employees who speak, write, and listen effectively; organize their thoughts logically; and explain everything clearly.

  • Computer and technical literacy: Almost all jobs now require an understanding, ranging from basic to advanced, of computer software, word processing, e-mail, spreadsheets, and Internet navigation.

  • Problem solving/creativity: Employers always want people who can get them out of a pickle. Problem-solving ability can aid you in making transactions, processing data, formulating a vision, and reaching a resolution. Employers need the assurance that you can conquer job challenges by thinking critically and creatively.

  • Interpersonal abilities: Relationship building and relationship management are high priorities with many employers. These skills confirm that a candidate can relate well to others, both coworkers and customers.

  • Teamwork skills: The ability to work well with others while pursuing a common goal is a long-running favorite of employers. But so is the ability to work with minor supervision.

  • Diversity sensitivity: In today’s world, employers highly value cultural sensitivity and ability to build rapport with others in a multicultural environment.

  • Planning and organizing: Workplace life requires prioritizing and organizing information. Employers value people who, metaphorically, dig a well before they’re thirsty.

  • Leadership and management: Leadership consists of a strong sense of self, confidence, and a comprehensive knowledge of company goals. These qualities motivate and inspire, providing a solid foundation for teamwork.

Year after year, in survey after survey, employers continue to look for assurances that you can in some way either make money for them or save money for them.

If the employer is a nonprofit organization, generally you should substitute the skills you can bring to bear on helping the organization fulfill its mission (unless the mission requires selling products to earn money). Skills useful in saving money are universally desired, including by the nonprofits.

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