I recently spoke to a group of adults between jobs. When I asked the leadership team what they wanted me to speak on, they said, often their members feel stuck and unsure of how to transition their skills into today’s employment landscape. They asked if I could help demystify this transition process.
As I sat down to prepare for the presentation, research and think about skills as we know them, it seemed the real gap was communication. Defining what we all think of as skills, and what they mean.
My research turned up great information on the skills that employers want.
People Skills — These include teamwork, leadership, oral and written communication and interpersonal skills. These skills all seem intuitive, their definitions are clear and they include words such as cooperatively, diplomacy, flexibility, empowering, inspiring and energizing, relationships, and verbal and written expression.
Self-Reliance Skills — Defined as self-awareness, networking and time management. These skills are about knowing your strengths and delivering on them, building and maintaining strong networks that can be called upon during your career and your ability to plan and prioritize your work, juggling many tasks at once.
Generalist Skills — These skills are defined as problem-solving skills, computer literacy, flexibility and adaptability, numeracy, commitment and motivation and commercial awareness. This skill set gets a bit more complicated, such as the ability to anticipate and manage change, the ability to handle numbers, analyze problematic situations, the ability to learn and adapt to new technology and, finally, the enthusiasm in pursuing all elements of your position.
Of the skills outlined above, the top 10 skills most desired by employers are — communication, analytical skills, computer literacy, flexibility/adaptability, interpersonal abilities, leadership, multicultural awareness, planning and organization, problem-solving and teamwork.
Understanding the skills most desired by employers and how your personal skills align with these is critical to a successful interview. Remember, I was asked to present how to transition skills, when in fact, I believe this is about communication.
So, now that you know how employers define skills, and the most desired skills by an employer today, here’s your assignment.
List your skills, just as I have defined these. For each skill write 1 to 2 confirmation statements, such as “I have great time management skills, exampled several times in my career when I was asked to lead an aggressive on-boarding initiative from start to finish, in a 60-day window.”
As you make network connections, build relationships and find that perfect open position, preparing for the interview becomes very important. The most important element is to break down the job description so that you understand completely the skills necessary to do the job. Some job postings will outline the skills, others will weave the skills into statements.
It is critical to show how you put the required skills into action and contributed to the success of previous employers. Providing specific examples of how these skills led to your success can mean the difference between receiving an offer letter or not.
Originally published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on September 14, 2014.