There are many steps you can take to land a job. You can polish up your resume. You can run through a mock interview with a friend, and you can study the specific career skills required for your chosen path. What many job seekers tend to overlook is that, while there are often job specific skills you can research and pick up with experience, there are other skills that employers across the board look for in an employee. Here are some of those essential job skills.
Ability to learn and adapt
Jobs change over time. There are regular updates to equipment, computers, and programs. Policies and procedures are amended. Employees come and go, and even management switches from time to time. Employers want people who can quickly pick up on changes and who are happy to do so. To highlight your adaptability in an interview, talk about a time when you stayed calm in a situation of change. Explain how you worked through the switch by using creative thought processes—something employers value in virtually every employee.
Communication is an essential skill across the board as far as jobs go. Naturally extroverted people often feel they have the advantage here, but no matter your comfort level with other people, you need to master how to get your point across. Introverts and extroverts alike can succeed at communication on the job. Individuals just need to find ways to interact clearly and effectively with others in the workplace. In an interview, be sure to feature forms of communication you are proficient at. If you’re questioned about your communication weaknesses, explain to the interviewers how you’re working to improve in those areas.
A team player
There’s nothing wrong with showing initiative and standing out from the crowd, just make sure you work well with others in the process. Succeeding in the workplace has a lot to do with building good relationships with those you work alongside. Employers want to get a sense that you will easily fit into the workplace environment and will work smoothly with their current employees. Conflict among employees degrades work and creates an unpleasant workspace for everyone. Whether you’re at the bottom of the totem pole or near the top, teamwork and contributing to a positive work environment is one of those essential job skills that employers look for.
Another of the essential employment skills that will come up in job interviews is your decision-making process. Interviewers will usually try to determine your thought processes by asking questions regarding decisions you’ve had to make in the past (whether on the job or not). What your potential employers want to know is that you can think creatively through a problem and that you don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed and give up.
Ability to accept criticism
Among desirable career skills, the willingness to accept constructive criticism is a big one. No one enjoys being told that there’s need for improvement, but the truth is that sometimes things don’t go as planned. Employers want people who are willing to take feedback and incorporate the lessons into their work, without getting upset or pushing back. If taking criticism is something you struggle with it’s important to remember the reasons behind the feedback. Employers typically don’t enjoy giving criticism either; they do so to help you sharpen your skills and get everyone on the same page.
Even if you’re being considered for an entry-level position, employers are often curious about your career aspirations and the tactics you might use to achieve them. While being ambitious can be a great asset, burning bridges and stepping on a lot of toes to move up is generally frowned upon. If you want to stand out as a future leader, be sure to highlight your abilities to work cooperatively to get things done and your capacity to inspire others.
Whether you’re preparing for an interview or trying to sum up your credentials for an application and cover letter, don’t forget about these universal employment skills. Having job-specific qualifications may get your foot in the door, but it’s frequently these core career skills that will keep you there and set you apart from the crowd.