The workplace is always changing. That includes which skills are more in demand than others. I have identified three core areas that seem to be on the forefront of what hiring managers are looking for today, no matter if you are a teacher, engineer, doctor, secretary, or anything in between.
“How can a lone skill be in demand across so many different jobs?” you might ask. Well, keep in mind that these areas are not the be-all and end-all. Each team, function and position will vary in the degree that these may be important. Plus, skills can vary across industry, function, and individual/team dynamics. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach because, just as people are varied, job skills can vary too. For example, the skills required for a software engineer will definitely differ from those of a 1st grade teacher! It’s important for you to determine what other job skills are needed for the specific industry or role you are considering.
With that said, here are three skills considered among the most attractive in today’s market. At the very least, understand how these skills may improve your candidacy for a new job or bring additional value to the job you already have.
1) Professional attitude & interest
A hiring manager once told me that the ‘thing’ – the ‘it-factor’ so to speak – that he looks for in every candidate is that they are nice. His view was that it’s easy to teach the technical aspects of some positions, but it’s hard to teach attitude.
What I believe a lot of hiring managers are looking for is the degree to which the candidate will get along with other people. Their overall attitude that will inevitably come with them to work. It’s possible to teach Java, but it’s harder teach respect. I believe this gets to the heart of what some people call ‘communication’ skills. It’s the ability to speak with assertiveness and without contempt when differing opinions happen. I’ll be first to admit, that it comes with practice and self reflection!
The other part of this is genuine interest in the work itself. During the interview, the interest level can sometimes be faked for the couple of hours you are interviewing. Over the months and years, interest is harder to come by. Be interested and find curiosity in your work – sometimes it pays off because your curiosity can lead you to a promotion. People tend to like and follow people who bring a professional attitude and a high level of interest to the group dynamic.
2) Technological knowledge & flexibility
Well the age of technology isn’t really all that new anymore. We have absolutely accepted the fact that learning and being familiar with technology is a necessity. Not only at work. Some, including myself, would rather have wi-fi and a warm blanket than a heater and no Google! So, what this means in the workplace is that if you’re brain is natural at understanding logic and organizational charts or trees, this skill is in high demand everywhere. We all love our IT guys & gals, but bringing that skill set in-house or to your department can make you invaluable.
This skill set is a comfort with working with technology, being able to answer basic questions about programming languages and third party software to customize it to office needs. Since technology will most likely continue to move rapidly, this high level of comfort and ease is attractive to almost every function. My suggestion if you don’t feel comfortable, is try to learn a new software for fun. Just see what you learn! Especially about yourself. You may be surprised to find out that you’re more impressive than you thought or, at the very least, that you can learn new tricks.
3) Analytical mindset
Okay, this is huge right now. We are right on the edge of this wave and with enough savvy and interest, there is plenty of room to ride this wave. It has to do with Big Data. The question is, “what do we do with the influx of information that has never been available before in human history?” Managers and decision-makers in industries everywhere are looking for the skill set to take information and examine, dig deep, analyze and turn it upside down to understand how new algorithms and programming can help make profit or improve efficiency.
Every business these days has a website and social media presence. We are now able to track user experience by the second. So, how do we use it to make products better? There may not even be titles yet for this, but many want the skill set because businesses are trying to figure this out before their competitors. If you don’t know much about it, I suggest you Google ‘big data’ or ‘analytics’. Brainstorm ways to use these before your next interview, it just might come up.
Many managers have these three areas on their minds. See how you can pull in your experience in these areas to increase your value. If you are job hunting go a step further and research these areas to see where you can find an advantage out there in the job market.