Two People Walk Into a…
Two job applicants walk into an office building. Unbeknownst to them, they are competing for the same position. This position guarantees a great salary and great benefits at a company with a solid record of success.
Each job applicant is excited about the new opportunity. It promises exactly the kind of possibilities they always dreamed about: the work they’ve always wanted to do with an organization they’ve always wanted to work with.
It’s a job that could be personally fulfilling while also providing an avenue toward a nicer home in a nicer neighborhood with better schools, better options… In short, they’re already planning out a healthy and happy future for themselves and their families.
Both candidates worked hard, received good grades, have the right kind and amount of experience, and both hold the desired degree according to the job description. So, with each person appearing equal on paper, what exactly will distinguish them?
The 8 Skills That Pay the Bills
Experts and hiring managers agree: The right education and experience are nice, but it isn’t everything. So, what will set you apart and make you successful in whatever career you choose? Here are the secret skills that every candidate needs:
1. A Strong Work Ethic
This may be stating the obvious, but businesses aren’t exactly searching for the laziest candidate out there. Employers want people who are disciplined, can take direction, accept constructive criticism, and, when necessary, work autonomously.
With the rise in hybrid and remote workers, showing ambition – a go-getter’s attitude – and the ability to expertly manage time and projects are vital skills.
2. A Professional Demeanor
This goes beyond your appearance and into your mindset. Dress codes will vary across different industries and workplace cultures, but every organization wants employees that are mature, reliable, have integrity, and are respectful of others.
3. Interpersonal Skills
A business cannot be successful without good communication. Therefore, this is a top quality in an ideal candidate. Employers look for character traits that make someone a great team member: friendliness, a spirit of collaboration – even having patience and compassion for others.
4. A Lifelong Learner
Candidates who show enthusiasm for personal and professional growth are valued by employers. Simply because you received a college diploma does not mean your education is complete. There is always something new to learn.
Demonstrating a drive for self-improvement, a willingness to ask questions, and the understanding that you don’t yet know everything are all welcome assets.
5. Leadership Ability
Even if management isn’t on your list of career goals, there are leadership qualities that are valued in every employee. These include taking ownership of the work you do, showing initiative, and being able to keep your cool in a crisis.
Thinking outside the box is a great asset in the workplace. Some of the most successful people in the world are highly creative and original thinkers.
Elon Musk, for example, taught himself computer programming at just 12 years old, created a video game, and sold it for $500. That not only demonstrates creativity, but a very strong work ethic and ambition for learning. Contributing new ideas and being able to tackle problems from a different point of view are great qualities in a candidate.
7. Analytical Skills
Employers love a good problem-solver. It takes intelligence and fortitude, but it also takes being detail-oriented, observant – and a little bit of patience. Analytical people think about how things could be better or different. In fact some very creative people also consider themselves analytical: Stephen Sondheim, Philip K. Dick, Joni Mitchell – just to name a few.
8. Resiliency & Adaptability
Do you love a good challenge? That’s a great quality in a candidate. Employers want people who don’t cut and run at the first sign of trouble. Showing that you can persist will help you succeed at work – and in life. So, will being able to adapt. Organizational change will happen, it’s just a matter of when. You have to be willing to rise to the occasion and change with it.
We’re not downplaying the importance of good education and experience. Those are definite assets, especially with the digital talent we source every day. Every competitive company needs expert designers, architects, and developers of all kinds. Rather, we are emphasizing the importance of character in equal measure with competency. So, the next time you win that dream job interview, don’t overlook these very real, very valuable, maybe-no-so-secret skills that every candidate needs.