February 20, 2017 – One thing executive recruiters know inside and out are skill sets. Whether they look at soft skills or hard skills when they review any candidate’s ability to perform a job, this is the one area they look at more closely than anything else.
Soft skills are interpersonal, or people oriented. Recruiters say these are the most difficult to quantify, and relate to a person’s personality and ability to work with others. If you have lousy soft skills, don’t look for a job where team dynamics will come into play.
Hard skills are quantifiable and they can be taught, and therefore learned. They include specific knowledge required for a job. If you have solid hard skills, for example, in computer programming, accounting, mathematics, or data analysis then those are specific and highly sought after skill sets that likely will set you apart.
Skills sets, of course, can cover such a wide spectrum in the workplace – from human resources to research & planning, leadership, management, and digital. We all have them, and the best of us hone them as we climb the corporate ladder.
Recruiters also like to look at one other skill type – transferable skills. These can apply to many different career fields and often include soft skills like critical thinking and problem solving. Recruiters say that if you can transfer your skills from one function to another, or one industry to the next, you are in the catbird seat when it comes to the added value you bring to your next gig.
Why Employees Are Looking
Employees spanning all generations are looking at industries outside of the current one they are working within for new opportunities. The top industries candidates are considering migrating to include technology & software, entertainment, communications, banking & finance and consulting. According to one study, 71 percent of Millennials, 66 percent of Gen Xers and 44 percent of baby boomers are presently looking to move to another company ….. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.
More Than Half of U.S. Employees Are Seeking New Jobs
Sixty three percent of full time employees are looking for a new job, this according to a new report, ‘Competition for Talent in the U.S.,’ released by iCIMS.
Staying ‘Workplace Competitive’
Dave Nerz, president of NPAworldwide, a global network for independent recruiters, has identified eight skills sets that he believes everyone (including recruiters) should sharpen in 2017 in order to remain “workplace competitive” and to stay ahead of the curve.
1) Sales – No matter what job we hold, everyone is inherently in ‘sales mode’ much of the time in their professional lives, so this is one skill that should be polished and practiced regularly. Not only do you have to sell your skills to your company and executives higher up than you, but you have to learn to sell yourself to future employers as well.
2) Marketing – According to Mr. Nerz, marketing is about positioning and promotion. These are skills that can greatly impact everything you do, from the way you approach a job search and position yourself to how you handle the job you’ve got. According to this recruiter, it’s worth spending time and money to get better at marketing.
3) Communication – In this category, Mr. Nerz includes listening, speaking, writing, and telephone skills. Even though email ‘can’ be a more informal type of writing, his guess is that most of us are doing more writing than we ever imagined we would. Words matter, and so do grammar and punctuation. On top of that, we all need to be great listeners. Listening requires its own training and practice. There’s a quote attributed to Stephen Covey, said Mr. Nerz: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Listening to understand, therefore, is a skill.
4) Time Management – Everyone has the same number of hours in the day, but some people manage to get a lot more done with their hours than others. It’s so easy to get distracted at work. Mr. Nerz said, therefore, that we all strict time management systems. If your day gets away from you more often than you’d like to admit, it might be time for a refresher course on time management.
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5) Negotiating – Mr. Nerz is fond of saying that everything is a negotiation until someone says no. While we negotiate in all areas of our lives (whether we realize it or not), many of us have never received formal training for it. Or it was so long ago that the rules have changed. If you’re working across cultures, negotiating styles vary widely. It’s important to be able to adapt your negotiating style for different situations.
6) Interviewing – How often do you conduct interviews? Are you good at people interaction, one-on-one? How do you know? Can you objectively assess people, certain that you’ve asked them all the same questions? If not, this is a skill that needs work.
7) IT / Social Media – Unless you’re working in a very large environment, you probably don’t have dedicated IT staff at your beck-and-call. That means you need to be competent in basic IT skills like maintenance, file back-up, software installations / upgrades, and some hardware knowledge. On top of that, proficiency in office-style software is assumed. And don’t overlook social media – you should understand what it is, which channels make the most sense for you and your business and have working knowledge in those platforms. These may not seem like pure play skills, but you’ll be more productive and efficient if you can competently take care of basic to intermediate-level tasks.
8) Industry / Occupational Expertise – If you specialize in a particular industry, occupation, or niche, make sure your depth of knowledge is sufficient. It’s not necessarily critical for you to have direct experience as a software engineer, but you should understand the tools, technology, and terminology that are used. Remember, being able to learn new skills and then transfer skills to new tasks will keep you super competitive and ahead of the curve in 2017.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media