We all have a “skills” section in our résumé or a list of talents that our friends have endorsed on LinkedIn—but are these the skills that employers value in a potential employee? While every business and position will require slightly different skills, employers generally look for basic hard and soft skills.
Hard skills are tangible skills that are usually acquired through training or education; these are often the first things listed on job postings. Some hard skills include the ability to write, solve equations, or operate machinery. Soft skills are intangible skills typically related to interpersonal skills that oftentimes can’t be taught but are developed over time. Some examples are the ability to interpret body language, be empathetic, or come up with new solutions.
Below are the top 10 hard and soft skills all employers look for in a potential job candidate.
Almost every business is computer- and internet-based, so basic technological skills are a must. While most everyone knows they should have proficiency in common programs such as Microsoft Office Suite, going beyond that by being familiar with industry-specific software is definitely a plus. Additionally, social networking is another crucial skill employers seek.
Technical knowledge not only includes the necessary information to perform the job but also knowledge about the company and how it operates within its field. Many interviewers will ask you about your understanding of their company, services, and products, so it’s important to have a solid background before going in. In fact, when one of my friends got rejected from a job and asked the reason for it, they said it was because she didn’t emphasize her knowledge of their products as much as she could have.
More and more jobs these days are looking for candidates who are bilingual. In many industries, being bilingual not only includes full proficiency in everyday conversation and business situations but near-native fluency in technical matters related to the job. Even being proficient in another language can make you stand out among those who only speak English.
Mathematics is something I’m not particularly strong at—throughout college, I always took courses for people who probably won’t need advanced mathematic knowledge in their career. However, the ability to add and subtract basic numbers, calculate total costs and taxes, and interpret easy charts and graphs is helpful in any career. A strong candidate should be comfortable with easy arithmetic without making any errors.
While not everyone is a hardcore academic researcher, the ability to analyze information and pick out the important parts to report on is extremely crucial in any field. The reality is that people don’t have time to read every lengthy report, so it’s an important skill to be able to synthesize necessary information and report on in succinctly.
Strong verbal and written communication skills are a must for any job candidate. A strong communicator is someone who can express their thoughts in a way that can be easily understood by the receiving party. Additionally, a good communicator can convey information to a variety of people, particularly in cross-cultural situations as businesses continue to globalize.
According to a 2015 study from Jobvite, 92% of recruiters stated that they use social media as a part of their hiring process. The ability to present yourself professionally and make useful contacts via social media is an extremely important skill during the interview process, as well as after you get the job when you must connect with other businesses. Networking also extends beyond just social media to face-to-face connections. Are you someone who’s good at introducing yourself to new people and keeping in contact with them?
A good leader is someone who not only knows how to take initiative but can also be a good follower and team member. Even those who feel they don’t represent the typical outgoing, overly charismatic leader stereotype can exhibit leadership traits by making strong contributions and being diligent in the little things.
People often overlook how their attitude and demeanor play a role in the recruiting process. These days interviewers will ask not only technical questions but also more personality-related questions to gauge how you handle certain situations. The ability to be positive and handle all situations with a smile is a huge plus, in addition to being a huge morale boost. With so much negativity in the world, a positive employee can make all the difference.
Critical thinking and problem solving are important real-world skills that employers look for. There will always be new problems, so the ability to think creatively and from multiple angles is extremely important. Strong candidates can demonstrate their critical-thinking skills by sharing how they’ve contributed to synthesizing different viewpoints and come to consistent conclusions in past work experiences and how those skills will translate to this new position.
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