Top Most Valued Job Skills
Job & Work Place Top Most Valued Job Skills
1. Communication Skills
The communication skills category includes both verbal and written communication skills. That means being able to get your point across in discussions both in-person and virtual.
It’s not enough to be well-spoken. Writing skills are now critical for almost every job because email has become such an important means of communication (and an email is often your first or only impression on a colleague, client, or partner).
In most roles, you must be able to tailor your communications for different audiences. Hiring managers seek applicants with excellent communication skills. They are often more productive and effective in the long run. Strong verbal and written communication will definitely set you apart from other candidates applying for the same position
Employers want to hire people who are able to communicate effectively with those inside and outside of the organization.As an employee, you may also be called upon to write reports, newsletters, blog posts and articles, summations, employee reviews, and more. Without adequate (or stellar) written communication skills, your career could suffer.
Why Are Communication Skills So Highly Prized by Employers?
Communication skills are also key to getting hired in the first place. After all, the way you communicate your strengths and what you bring to the employer’s table in your resume and during your interview plays a huge role in whether you get hired — or not. I have seen many well-qualified candidates get passed over due to communication skills. That’s when they come to me for coaching and see the dramatic difference they can achieve with a little preparation.
Strong communication skills make you more productive and more effective.When you communicate well the first time, you save a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted on clarifying, answering questions, correcting wrong perceptions, chasing people down, and fixing mistakes.
Great communication skills can set an employee apart. At the very least, they can mean the difference between the potential for advancement and a stagnant career.
Tips to Develop Stronger Communication Skills
If communication, verbal or written, is an area of weakness for you, there are things you can do that will help. The good news is that communication skills can be developed.
- Volunteer for assignments that stretch your communications skills. Ask if you can lead a meeting or take on managing this month’s internal newsletter. This also shows initiative and a commitment to your work.
- Join your local Toastmasters group. Toastmasters is an awesome organization. You get to practice your speaking and presentation skills and can also meet interesting people from different industries.
- Make a commitment to scrupulously edit and proofread all written work. Don’t over-rely on spell check, but use it and other tools like Grammar.ly if you’re rusty on Composition 101 topics.
- Sign up for an improv workshop. This is also a great option for those who want to learn how to think on their feet — or just need an adrenaline boost.
- Recruit an editing buddy. Find someone at work who can serve as a second set of eyes on important documents. You can play the same role for him or her. We often miss things in our own work and an objective reader can be very valuable.
- Take a business communication class. You’ll find classes on presentation skills, business writing, and general communications at local colleges, continuing educations providers, and corporate training companies like the American Management Association or Dale Carnegie.
- Read up on communications best practices. Try classic writing books like “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White (short but enlightening), bookmark Grammar Girl for your grammar questions, read “Crucial Conversations” for advice on navigating tricky communication issues at work or “Getting to Yes” for advice on negotiation.
2. Teamwork/Ability to Work Collaboratively
Why is Teamwork so Important for Today’s Employers?
Almost every job requires employees to collaborate, or at least get along, with a diverse group of humans. This makes the ability to work with others a highly-valued trait for employers.
We’ve all worked with people who didn’t “play well with others”— and it can really have a negative effect on both productivity and morale.
Do you have the ability to work collaboratively, and let teamwork rule in the office? According to surveys, applicants with leadership skills together with the ability to work in a team will help them stand out from other applicants. Hiring managers need to know whether you can adjust to a new environment and get along with others in a professional setting.
Being a “team player” might sound cliché, but this also includes being open to suggestions, having a positive state of mind and the ability to deal with different personalities no matter what the circumstances are.
If you haven’t yet had much opportunity to work on a team in a work setting, be prepared to talk about academic group projects or extracurricular team experiences. You want to show that you can jump right in and get along with your coworkers and clients.
Consider these development options:
1) Volunteer for more team projects. Look or opportunities at work, in class, or in your extracurricular or volunteer activities. For new grads, it’s all about gaining more experience that you can describe in your interviews — and looking for openings to work with different people in different environments to increase your versatility.
2) Find a teamwork mentor. Look around for role models who handle collaboration particularly well. You can learn a lot just by observing and emulating. Who do you enjoy working with most? Who is particularly good at neutralizing touchy situations? If you start observing more carefully, you’ll notice people have different teamwork strengths — for example, one person is the motivator and someone else is the hard worker who always finds a way to get things done.
3) Deepen your understanding of group dynamics. Try an assessment like the DISC profile or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). These personality assessments can be useful in understanding your own preferences and those of others. For example, if your boss is a details guy and you’re a big-picture thinker, it can help to know that and tailor your communications to persuade him in his own language.
4) Learn how to troubleshoot teamwork challenges. Read a book like Working with Difficult People to learn strategies for dealing with bullies, tyrants, connivers, and kiss-ups.
Victor Hugo said it best: “Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.”
Employers don’t want to hire applicants who act like robots and aren’t inclined to take initiative. Self-motivation is a key quality for an applicant. Employers want to hire people who care enough to do their jobs well, and are driven to help the company succeed.
Some hiring managers will ask behavioral questions to help them determine whether or not you are a proactive employee. Don’t hesitate to share your experiences to build up your brand and impress them.
Why is Initiative Important to Employers?
In today’s competitive and fast-moving business environment, companies are always looking for an edge on the competition. To position yourself as an ideal hire, you need to show you will go above and beyond the job description and really contribute.
Initiative is attractive in any candidate, but it’s particularly desirable for certain types of positions. For example, startups typically look for people who can wear multiple hats. Many teams within larger organizations also find themselves tasked with “doing more with less” and greatly appreciate a candidate who can contribute beyond their formal job description.
For employers, it’s hard to know if a candidate has initiative through their resume alone. Smart hiring managers will use behavioral questions (“Tell me about a time…”) to get a sense of how the candidate has approached work in the past and if he or she has a history of taking initiative on the job.
Initiative may be one of your strengths if you:
- Prefer to start projects early to ensure you’ll have time to do a fantastic job
- Seek out new assignments, especially those outside your comfort zone
- Never say, “That’s not my job.”
- Rarely say, “What else do you need me to do?”
- Are known as someone who gets things done, even in the face of obstacles
- Volunteer for committees or special projects
- Look for training opportunities to help you contribute more
- Read up on industry trends in your spare time
Here are some ways to show more initiative in your workplace.
- Ask for Input. If you’re having trouble finding ways to take initiative, talk to your manager about where you can add the most value for the group. Ask how you could make his or her job easier. This can help you identify new ways to contribute — and just asking the question demonstrates initiative.
- Think Differently. Make time for brainstorming new ideas that could benefit your team or company. Schedule an hour into your week or set a quota of x new ideas per month to research. Not all of these ideas will be winners, but you’re certain to find a few gems along the way. This process also trains you to look for new ways to improve and contribute on a regular basis.
- Act on Constructive Feedback. If your manager or a colleague gives you constructive feedback, act on it and let them know that you acted on it. For example, if your boss mentions that your writing could be more concise, sign up for a writing class or pick up a book on writing skills, then make a point of thanking your manager for the advice and mentioning how much the class/book has helped you.
- Be Your Best. Take full advantage of all of the training options available to you. You have to be proactive because if you wait until you “have time for training,” that time may never come. First, explore the training opportunities available to you through your job (whether company-provided or company-reimbursed). However, don’t limit yourself to the obvious options. Look at free courses available through organizations like Coursera and EdX. Even if you have to pay your own way (some companies are unfortunately stingy with training), seek out ways to develop your skills and knowledge. This can help you show initiative in your current job and will also make you more marketable for future opportunities.
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