What are the basic skills for overall career success?
What are the key factors that recruiters and employers are looking for in potential employees? How does the interviewer separate the applicant with five years experience from the applicant with one months experience sixty times? In addition, for each position the employer may be looking for different specific career skills and experience.
There are however, similar skill sets and attitudes that employers look for in all applicants from engineer to janitor. What skills are continually in demand?
1. Bedrock Basic Career Skills
Simply put: basic educational skills learned by the end of junior high school. How well does the applicant read, write and do basic math? For example, a few years ago an automobile manufacturer was planning to add over 1000 new employees to a large assembly plant. Slightly over 20,000 applied for the well paying jobs. All the applicants were high school graduates and ranged in age from 18 to 67, with the bulk of the applicants between ages 25 to 45.
In the selection process all the applicants were required to take a series of paper and pencil tests. Tests built so an average high school freshman should easily pass. The tests were designed to determine basic reading, writing (comprehension) and analytical (math, reading simple charts and forms) skills. The series of tests took about four hours to complete. Slightly over 50% failed these basic skill tests.
This is a sad commentary on the erosion of basic skills after high school.
Move the skills up a notch to include basic keyboarding skills, basic computer knowledge and other modern tools: fax, copy machine, basic work processing and you have the bedrock basic skills required for success in almost any employment situation.
2. Team and Interpersonal Skills
How well does the applicant speak? Do they answer questions in a positive manner? Do they get to the point? Can they demonstrate good customer service skills? Although not everyone needs to be outgoing can the applicant communicate well with coworkers, other team members, management and customers? Working well with others is a critical skill for job success.
3. Ongoing Job Search Achievement
A successful job search is a process that requires a high level of dedication. If you’re waiting for your ship to come in after only sending out two applications in two months your chances of success is severely diminished compared to the applicant who sends out 2, 5 and even 10 applications a day. Employers are seeking employees who are positive and show enthusiasm and knowledge of the industry and companies they approach. You will be evaluated, positively or negatively, on how you are approaching the job search. Even with fewer skills, with this positive approach, you have a better chance in getting the job over a lackluster candidate with better skills.
This approach is equally applicable for new positions or internal moves or promotions at your present place of employment.
4. Job Performance
Employers are constantly adding and subtracting employees and operations depending upon the marketplace. A safe job today may be axed six months from now. How do you manage to somewhat insulate yourself from these fluctuations?
Beyond the numbers, it all comes down to performance. By demonstrating your worth, taken the initiative and otherwise developed into a valuable employee you have less chance of being downsized than those will average performance. This superior performance will also lead to other successes as you move up the career ladder.
5. Career and Job Development
Start with career development. This is a planning skill. Setting career goals both short and long term and reaching them will be of great assistance in climbing your career ladder. A key ingredient to career development is learning new skills, updating established skills and applying new concepts.
This is accomplished by job or professional development in taking classes, self-study programs, attending seminars and otherwise being open to new opportunities to grow your career. This is only done if you are committed to be a lifelong student. People who demonstrate this trait are keeping themselves marketable as employers are always looking for people who have the up to date training and skills to handle new challenges.
Where do you fit? Need help in polishing up you writing skills? Having a problem conducting meetings or making presentations? Haven’t done as assessment on your career progress for some time? Read any good books lately? All require taking the first step. Commit not to “rust out” like many of the applicants were apparently doing who applied for the assembly line jobs. Better to be in the no “wear out” category, with the life long learning process supplying the lubricant to keep everything humming and really never wearing out.