These 7 job skills can make you more marketable to employers
From knowing your way around data analytics to problem-solving smarts, this is what you need to get an edge in this year’s job market.
Nothing is forever—especially in the workforce. So naturally, the job skills that employers look for in new hires change from year to year. It’s one of the best ways for companies to stay competitive and ahead of the never-ending curve.
“The workplace moves rapidly,” says Julie Friedman Steele, board chair and CEO at World Future Society, a membership group for people who study changes across various industries. “Employers need workers who stay current.”
That means you need to consistently improve your skills and develop new ones. So if you’re looking for a better job—and why wouldn’t you be?—how can you make your skill set more attractive to employers?
Monster spoke with experts to determine the top seven skills employers will be looking for in new hires. Here’s your chance to get an edge in the job market.
Some soft skills, like problem-solving abilities, will always be in fashion when it comes to most important job skills, says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. “Challenges inevitably arise,” she says, and “employers want to see that you can troubleshoot and solve them independently.”
To prove to a hiring manager during a job interview that you’re a problem solver, “cite an example from a past job where you identified a problem, developed a solution, and successfully resolved the issue,” Salemi advises.
“We’re moving into even more of a data-driven world,” says Steele. But numbers alone are useless unless there’s a human who can interpret them. As a result, more employers are searching for job candidates who can understand and utilize data.
This is an important skill for everyone—not just for job seekers seeing traditional data jobs, says Parminder Jassal, head of the Learn and Work Futures Group at the Institute for the Future. “You should have some experience with data analytics and computational thinking, whether it’s programming, coding, or machine learning,” she says.
Unfamiliar with data? Don’t sweat it. You can easily gain or improve your data analytics skills by taking an online course on the subject.
Social media literacy
Between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and the like, social media is changing the way companies do business, which is why it’s important to not only understand how these tools work but also be able to use them effectively for business purposes.
But many job seekers today still aren’t capitalizing on the wide-reaching effects of social media. Case in point: A Pew Research Center study found that only 21% of all U.S. adults use Twitter.
“Social media literacy is one of the top five job skills I see employers seeking in new hires,” says Robin Colner, CEO of DigiStar Media, a digital and social marketing agency based in Harrison, New York. “Job seekers that have developed robust online personal brands using social media and content marketing have a clear advantage over candidates that have limited experience with social marketing. I have seen first hand how individuals of all ages and career stages have obtained better jobs and advanced their careers by demonstrating competency with social media.”
Salemi says one way to highlight your social media skills during a job interview is by describing how you use these websites. Are you using Twitter to stay on top of industry news and interact with thought leaders? What types of articles do you share on Facebook? Have you built a strong following on Instagram to show off your eye for the extraordinary? Your social media activity should serve a concrete purpose beyond being a cure for boredom.
A global survey from the World Economic Forum found that creativity will be the third most important work skill—after complex problem solving and critical thinking—by 2020. Why? “Employers are always looking for people who can come up with fresh ways to approach their jobs,” Salemi says.
Granted, most job interviews aren’t particularly conducive to demonstrating your creativity in real time. Thus, the best way to show you have a creative mindset is to talk about an innovative way you tackled a task in the past. Maybe you streamlined the production process for your department, or found a way to shrink the company’s operating costs—those sorts of creative achievements are music to a hiring manager’s ears.
Trial and error is a recurring process in every industry—innovation depends on experimentation. As such, you need to be able to take a hit as well as a win.
“Employers want to see that you can thrive in tough situations,” Salemi explains. That’s why resiliency is one of the most coveted soft skills in today’s job market, says Steele.
While it’s similar to problem solving, resiliency is more focused on your ability to recover from setbacks. Instead of crumbling under pressure, you need to learn from failure and find ways to make the best of a bad situation.
Good business sense
As more companies adopt flat organization structures—breaking down silos between employees and executives—more employers are looking for people who understand basic business principles.
“Nowadays, individuals have to be able to understand how the entire company operates,” Jassal explains. Therefore, showing hiring managers that you’re acquainted with the basic functions of other departments within the company can make you a significantly more attractive job candidate.
Willingness to learn
This may not seem like a skill per say, but willingness to learn new skills is one of the most compelling characteristics job seekers can possess today, Jassal says.
Whether it’s through industry conferences, certification courses, online classes, or Meetup Groups, “you should always be taking steps to improve and gain new job skills,” she says.
Salemi agrees. “Employers want to know: Do you have an appetite to learn new things? Do you stay on top of industry trends? Do you push yourself and take on tasks that are outside your comfort zone?” Those traits all reflect your desire to enhance your skill set—making you a more valuable worker to any employer.
Prove your worth from the get-go
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