by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Most jobseekers wish they could unlock the secret formula to winning over employers. What, they wonder, is the magic mix of skills and values that make employers want to hire them on the spot? While each employer is looking for a unique set of skills from jobseekers for each job opening, certain skills and values are nearly universally sought by hiring managers. While technical skills will always be important, soft skills have become the most sought after skills in employment today.
According to an analysis of 2.3 million LinkedIn profiles for The Wall Street Journal, nearly 58 percent of employees who touted stellar communication skills were hired over the course of a year, making it clear that “soft skills” is more than just a buzzword in the job market these days.
The good news is that most jobseekers possess these skills to some extent. The better news is that jobseekers with weaknesses in these areas can improve their skills through training, professional development, or obtaining coaching/mentoring from someone who understands these skills.
The best news is that once you understand the skills and characteristics that most employers seek, you can tailor your job-search communication — your resume, cover letter, and interview language — to showcase how well your background aligns with common employer requirements.
When sitting down to compile a list of valuable skills, start by asking yourself the following
- What are the personal skills I possess that might be valuable in the workplace? These are commonly called soft skills, people skills, or interpersonal skills. Some examples of soft
skills include problem-solving, adaptability, dependability, self-motivation and leadership skills.
- What are the professional skills I possess that will be valuable to an employer? These are commonly called hard skills, or technical skills. These are specific proficiencies that are often taught in school or on the job, such as foreign languages, computer skills, writing skills, or machine skills.
- Finally, what key skills are employers looking for? This information is important useful for determining whether you might be lacking the critical skills needed to get the job you want. To gather this information figure out these skills, study several job ads for the job titles you are seeking’re
looking to get hired in.
We’ve curated a list of the most desirable skills and values in today’s job market and have included sample verbiage describing each skill; jobseekers can adapt this verbiage to their own resumes, cover letters, and interview talking points. So, what are these critical employability skills that employers demand of jobseekers? Check out this list of the top values and skills employers seek and learn how to write them into your resume:
Deals with acting in a responsible and fair manner in all your personal and work activities, which is seen as a sign of maturity and self-confidence; avoid being petty.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Conscientious go-getter who is highly organized, dedicated, and committed to professionalism.
2. Honesty and Integrity.
Employers probably respect personal integrity more than any other value, especially in light of the many recent corporate scandals.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Seasoned professional whose honesty and integrity create effective leadership and optimal business relationships.
Deals with openness to new ideas and concepts, to working independently or as part of a team, and to carrying out multiple tasks or projects.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Highly adaptable, mobile, positive, resilient, patient risk-taker who is open to new ideas.
Employers seek jobseekers who love what they do and will keep at it until they solve the problem and get the job done.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Productive worker with solid work ethic who exerts optimal effort in successfully completing tasks.
There’s no question that all employers desire employees who will arrive to work every day on time and ready to work, and who will take responsibility for their actions.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Dependable, responsible contributor committed to excellence and success.
Employers want employees who will have a strong devotion to the company, even at times when the company is not necessarily loyal to its employees.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Loyal and dedicated manager with an excellent work record.
7. Positive Attitude/Motivation/Energy/Passion
The jobseekers who get hired and the employees who get promoted are the ones with drive and passion and who demonstrate this enthusiasm through their words and actions.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Energetic performer consistently cited for unbridled passion for work, sunny disposition, and upbeat, positive attitude.
Look at it this way: if you don’t believe in yourself, in your unique mix of skills, education, and abilities, why should a prospective employer? Be confident in yourself and what you can offer employers.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Confident, hard-working employee who is committed to achieving excellence.
9. Self-Motivated/Ability to Work Without Supervision
While teamwork is always mentioned as an important skill, so is the ability to work independently, with minimal supervision.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Highly motivated self-starter who takes initiative with minimal supervision.
10. Willingness to Learn
No matter what your age, and no matter how much experience you have, you should always be willing to learn a new skill or technique. Jobs are constantly changing and evolving, and you must show an openness to grow and learn with that change.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Enthusiastic, knowledge-hungry learner, eager to meet challenges and quickly assimilate new concepts.
11. Leadership/Management Skills
While there is some debate about whether leadership is something people are born with, these skills deal with your ability to take charge and manage your co-workers.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Goal-driven leader who maintains a productive climate and confidently motivates, mobilizes, and coaches employees to meet high-performance standards.
12. Multicultural Sensitivity/Awareness
There is possibly no bigger issue in the workplace than diversity, and jobseekers must demonstrate a sensitivity and awareness to other people and cultures.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Personable professional whose strengths include cultural sensitivity and an ability to build rapport with a diverse workforce in multicultural settings.
13. Planning and Organization
Deals with your ability to design, plan, organize, and implement projects and tasks within an allotted timeframe. Also, involves goal-setting.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Results-driven achiever with exemplary planning and organizational skills, along with a high degree of detail orientation.
Because so many jobs involve working in one or more work-groups, you must have the ability to work with others in a professional manner while attempting to achieve a common goal.
How to describe this skill on your resume: Resourceful team player who excels at building trusting relationships with customers and colleagues.
Final Thoughts on Employment Skills and Values
Employability skills and personal values are the critical tools and traits you need to succeed in the workplace, and they are all elements that you can learn, cultivate, develop, and maintain over your lifetime.
Once you have identified the sought-after skills and values and assessed the degree to which you possess them, begin to market them by building them into your resume and cover letter.
Put LiveCareer’s resume templates and cover letter templates to use here, and find yourself on a path to job-search success. If you think you’ll need top-to-bottom help with generating both documents, check out our resume builder and cover letter builder!