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What Do Employers Really Want? Top Skills and Values Employers Seek from Job-Seekers Printer-Friendly Version

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
 
Most job-seekers wish they could unlock the secret formula to winning the hearts and minds of employers. What, they wonder, is that unique combination of skills and values that make employers salivate with excitement?  

Every employer is looking for a specific set of skills from job-seekers that match the skills necessary to perform a particular job. But beyond these job-specific technical skills, certain skills are nearly universally sought by employers. The good news is that most job-seekers possess these skills to some extent. The better news is that job-seekers with weaknesses in these areas can improve their skills through training, professional development, or obtaining coaching/mentoring from someone who understands these skills.  

The best news is that once you understand the skills and characteristics that most employer seek, you can tailor your job-search communication -- your resume, cover letter, and interview language -- to showcase how well your background aligns with common employer requirements.  

Numerous studies have identified these critical employability skills, sometimes referred to as "soft skills." We've distilled the skills from these many studies into this list of skills most frequently mentioned. We've also included sample verbiage describing each skill; job-seekers can adapt this verbiage to their own resumes, cover letters, and interview talking points.  

Skills Most Sought After by Employers
 
So, what are these critical employability skills that employers demand of job-seekers?  
Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written). By far, the one skill mentioned most often by employers is the ability to listen, write, and speak effectively. Successful communication is critical in business.  

Sample bullet point describing this skill:
• Exceptional listener and communicator who effectively conveys information verbally and in writing.  
Analytical/Research Skills. Deals with your ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed.  
Sample bullet point describing this skill:
• Highly analytical thinking with demonstrated talent for identifying, scrutinizing, improving, and streamlining complex work processes.  
Computer/Technical Literacy. Almost all jobs now require some basic understanding of computer hardware and software, especially word processing, spreadsheets, and email.  
Sample bullet point describing this skill:
• Computer-literate performer with extensive software proficiency covering wide variety of applications.  
Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities. Deals with your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments.  
Sample bullet point describing this skill:
• Flexible team player who thrives in environments requiring ability to effectively prioritize and juggle multiple concurrent projects.  
Interpersonal Abilities. The ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict with co-workers is essential given the amount of time spent at work each day.  

Sample bullet point describing this skill:
• Proven relationship-builder with unsurpassed interpersonal skills.  
Leadership/Management Skills. While there is some debate about whether leadership is something people are born with, these skills deal with your ability to take charge and manage your co-workers.  

Sample bullet point describing this skill:
• Goal-driven leader who maintains a productive climate and confidently motivates, mobilizes, and coaches employees to meet high performance standards.  ...
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