5 Essential Skills That Companies Look For In Potential Candidates

successful career woman

There’s nothing worse than the feeling of stagnating in a job you hate. The money affords you just enough to get by. You’ve done the job for so long that you’re competent, even gifted. There are even one or two people whose camaraderie and friendship make your daily grind just about liveable. But while there may be some days where your job feels almost tolerable, there are far more where you want to tear your hair out in despair. The thought of staying where you are for another year, another month or even another week is enough to send you into paroxysms of shuddering sobs. In fact, the thought of getting all the way to the weekend is looking increasingly dubious.

“Look for something else!” your friends say. Oh, if only they knew. Your every evening, weekend and lunch break has been spent perusing all the job sites known to civilization. You’ve filled in so many job applications that you’re saying “I work well independently or as part of a team” and other such cliches in your sleep. Never before have you committed your high school history grades to writing so many times in the space of a week. But for all your hard work and proactivity, the fates seem to be conspiring against you. Application after application is either declined or ignored by employers and spec resumes you send out to companies languish unread in email inboxes. Since you’re only human, it’s not uncommon to start to take this a little personally.

Is it me?

The first thing we need to address is that your inability to shirk off your current job and move on to new opportunities is not necessarily a negative reflection on you. It doesn’t mean that you’re unemployable or undesirable, nor does it mean that your skills or lacking or that they’re not in demand. The fact that your applications are either rejected or ignored by businesses speaks more to the extremely competitive and cut-throat job market than it does to anything you’re doing. While you could certainly take steps to make your resume stand out from the hordes of competition out there, you can also spend your free time building up your transferable skills to make yourself a more viable candidate to prospective employers who have their pick of the crop. While many of us rely on our employers to help us develop our job-specific and transferable skills, not only does learning new skills in your free time make you more appealing to businesses, it also demonstrates a degree of self-determination and a proactive attitude.

Entrepreneurship

In an unforgiving economy where the next financial crisis could loom around any corner and an age where the cost of living always seems just out of the reach of your wages, it’s little wonder that so many of us pursue a side hustle in our free time. Whether this is walking the neighborhood dogs in the morning or running an e-commerce site, a side hustle is a great way to tip the economic scales back in your favor and make a little extra something every month. You could be forgiven for thinking that admitting to pursuing a side hustle in your free time would be a red flag to an employer. After all, they want to know that you’ll be able to give them your all and that you’ll be dedicated to their cause. But side hustles are actually an encouraging sign to a prospective employer. They represent a degree of pluck and initiative. They show an employer that you weren’t satisfied with your old job but rather than complain about it, you took matters into your own hands and applied yourself. It also shows determination, good time management skills and a commendable work ethic.

While a side hustle may not be necessarily a skill, it’s certainly not something you should shy away from including on your resume.

CPR and First Aid

Businesses are beholden to their employees in many ways. Among other things they have a legal obligation to ensure that their workforce is allowed to carry out their duties in a safe and secure working environment which treats their health and wellbeing as a priority. In order to do this, as well as laying out the infrastructure for safety at work, employers must ensure that there are first aid trained employees on site. Just how many they need may vary from country to country or state to state but it’s safe to say that rarely will they balk at the prospect of having too many first aiders.

Thus, it behoves you to undertake whatever First Aid training you can. Your current employer may be able to fund this (it’s in their best interests after all) but even if they can’t or won’t it’s well worth doing off your own back. Even if first aid training represented a significant upfront cost it would be worth the expense, but fortunately there are many certifications which you can acquire with very little monetary outlay or even for free. Take for example the CPR BLS certification online. The course itself is free and you pay only for the certification (a paltry $12) upon passing the test. When your resume states that you are already first aid and / or CPR trained this adds to your appeal as prospective employers see a potential saving in you alongside the other skills and attributes you bring to the table.

Technical skills

Most candidates today are technologically savvy, but given that training, employees is an expensive and time-consuming process, the more literate you can prove yourself with esoteric or job specific software the better. Fortunately, the digital realm affords you more opportunities than ever to grow your IT and tech skills for free. Whether this is taking on free online computer classes or even using an app like Codecademy to demonstrate a degree of coding literacy (an extremely marketable skill going into the 2020s).  Depending on the nature of your previous job and the job for which you’re applying you may need to undertake more idiosyncratic training but the sheer proliferation of online technical literacy courses means that if you have the free time and willingness to learn, improving your technical skills can help you stand head and shoulders over other candidates. Heading into the 2020s computer literacy is not the novelty that it was in the ‘90s. The more tech ready you can prove yourself to be the more productive you’ll be able to be straight out of the gate and the less your prospective employer will need to spend on training you. In an age where enterprises of all shapes and sizes are constantly finding ways to scythe down overhead costs, this means a lot to employers.

Time management

Productivity is everything to businesses. As competitive as the job market can be, your potential employer also faces stiff competition from other businesses. In order to stand out in their industry they need to be able to maximise productivity while rigorously managing overhead costs. Thus, if you can demonstrate a history of effective time management this is likely to be encouraging to businesses. There are many ways in which you can do this. Try and encompass the full range of your duties and responsibilities when describing your previous jobs in your resume. Don’t make it too long-winded, though, since brevity is extremely important in a good resume. Recruitment managers and entrepreneurs are extremely busy and will only be able to dedicate a short amount of time to each application.

You should also be sure to include any hobbies or extracurricular activities that you get up to in your spare time. This demonstrates not only good time management skills but also shows that you’re the kind of dynamic and energetic person who isn’t happy to simply collapse onto the sofa and vegetate in front of the TV after a hard day’s work.

Professionalism

While there’s an argument for privacy in your social media feed, if you choose to make your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profile visible to the general public, don’t be surprised if prospective employers use it as a metric to judge your suitability for a job opportunity. Thus, you should be very conscious of the content you share, retweet or comment upon, especially if it is political or controversial in nature. By all means have political views and opinions (nobody wants to employ a soulless robot) but ensure that you never post or share anything that could be misconstrued, misinterpreted or considered offensive.

You should also join professional or career-oriented groups on Facebook and if you aren’t yet on LinkedIn you’re missing out on a great platform to enable you to sell yourself to prospective employers.

In a difficult job market, you need to take every opportunity you can to make yourself more appealing to businesses and corporations. Demonstrate that you have the above skills and you could launch your career into the stratosphere.

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