What do employers look for in the candidates they hire? In a nutshell, they look for a set of skills, experience, and a record of accomplishments that suggests that the job-seeker can contribute similarly to their organization. In the later stages of the hiring process, particularly the interview stage, the job-seeker’s personal characteristics, as well as chemistry, rapport, and “fit” between job-seeker and employer, enter the picture.
While no single element is necessarily more important than the others, skills deserve significant attention because skills portrayal comprises a large portion of the job-seeker’s marketing campaign, especially in the resume and cover letter.
Employers generally seek candidates with a certain set of skills very specific to a given job. These types of skills, often referred to as “hard skills,” frequently are required in technical jobs; for example, in this ad for a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Developer/Analyst:
- Knowledge of one or more GIS packages and GIS programming languages.
- May be specialist in a technical area such a photogrammetry, remote sensing/image processing, GPS or in applications such as cadastral, AM/FM or environmental.
- Aware of web authoring development tools.
- Knowledge of operating systems (UNIX or NT) knowledge of relational database theory and application.
- Experience in implementing GIS Standards.
Beyond hard skills, another set of skills, known as “soft skills,” are extremely important because employers seek candidates with various subsets of these skills in nearly every job. Because these soft skills are applicable to so many jobs and because they are portable as you leave one job and seek out another, they are often called “transferable” skills.
The deft use of transferable skills should pervade your job search and play a key role in your resume, cover letter, and interview strategies.