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Skills and Personal Qualities that Employers Want

Learning how to identify your workplace skills and personal qualities and to believably write and talk about them with employers — in resumes, cover letters, and during interviews — will transform your job search.

No matter which niche you occupy in the workplace — technician or green-collar worker, professional or manager — mastering skills you can use, and skills that employers are willing to pay you to use, translates to a wonderful employment insurance policy, a giant umbrella to keep you from getting soaked when economic thunderstorms rain on your parade.

One of the terms you often find in a discussion of job requirements is skill set. A skill set refers to the skills needed to accomplish a specified task or perform a given function.

Popular skills that employers want

A roundup of several surveys suggests skills 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 those instructions 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 with 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 co-workers 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, cultural sensitivity and ability to build rapport with others in a multicultural environment is highly valued by employers.

  • 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 are qualities that motivate and inspire, providing a solid foundation for teamwork.

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, including by the nonprofit organizations.

Personal qualities that employers want

Here are some personal qualities that employers typically rate highly:

  • Adaptability and flexibility: Nearly half of employers in a recent survey gave a high rating to “openness to new ideas and concepts.” They also like candidates who can work independently or as part of a team, changing gears when required, whether multitasking or adapting working hours and locale.

  • Professionalism and work ethic: Employers seek productive workers with positive work ethics who stick with challenges until they meet them.

  • Positive attitude and energy: The last to be picked and promoted are candidates who show gloomy outlooks and emotional immaturity. Exhibit a sunny outlook and energetic, organized behavior.

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