Beyond the Resume: Insider's Guide to Skills Employers Value Most
Browse any job site or newspaper advert for jobs, and you’ll start to see similarities. Some skills remain in high demand, regardless of industry, role, or level. Sometimes termed “soft skills” or “transferable skills,” regardless of nomenclature, it’s in your best interest to make these skills stand out.
I’m not disregarding hard skills and experience within your desired role and industry: that is how you qualify for the interview. But rising to the top of the candidate pool depends on demonstrating acumen off the resume pages. It’s these soft skills employers value the most, the ones that will make you and your company successful, long after the interview.
Top of the list is a cultural fit, which means who you are, and the way you work alignes with the atmosphere and goals of the company.
From written rules and regulations (Office hours are from 9 to 6), to unwritten rules and informal networks (i.e., everyone eats lunch at their desk, top performers share ideas openly with management), every company has them. They’re looking for someone who emulates those ideals and can quickly assimilate. As a candidate, it’s not as hard as you think to determine whether you’ll be a culture fit: research the company. Much of the corporate culture is placed right out there on their website and in news items that are public domain. This is also where a little networking will come in handy: asking current and past employees about their experiences will give you a good idea of what it takes to become an ideal employee.
Second is a solid track record of performance.
Your resume should flow nicely without significant gaps or too many quick jumps from one job to another. Infrequencies in your story cause employers to skip over you quickly, so tackle them up front in your cover letter and be prepared to explain in your interview. Some issues can’t be helped, but most employers want to envision building a team that will last a long time. They need to feel as if they can count on their investment in you as an employee.
Third is the ability to build relationships and make a positive impression, and the first chance to demonstrate this is your resume.
As a candidate looking to stand out from the rest, tailor your resume to each job for which you submit an application, making sure individual accomplishments stand out to match the job description. Coming to an interview informed about the company, it’s goals and latest accomplishments sets you apart. Showing interest and engaging with the interviewer in a warm, professional manner can be the difference between a job offer or a rejection letter.
Fourth and final is passion and personality.
Companies want to hire individuals that not only have competence, but also bring a high level of energy and positivity to their work. Sigal Barsade, professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, states that positivity is not only contagious, but also has an impact on overall job performance, decision-making, creativity and turnover. Display a passion for the role and your work during the interview. Give examples of when you went above and beyond for your previous employers. You can’t fake or teach passion and drive, and for those who have it, it’s the attribute that usually pushes them over the top into the “Hire” category.
If you find yourself beginning a job search or preparing for an interview, make note of your transferable skills. Your resume is a powerful tool, but it’s who you are and how you bring those skills to the table that will ultimately win you your next big role in your career.