Top 5 Job Skills to Look for in Candidates

Finding the right candidate for an open position often proves difficult and time consuming with employers interviewing about 20 percent of the average 118 applicants they receive. According to Mike Kappel, CEO of Patriot Software, employers need to stop focusing on finding the “perfect” candidate. Instead, he suggests dividing up key employee traits into “must-have” and “like-to-have” categories. The challenging part then becomes understanding which job skills fall into the “must-have” category and which don’t.

Professional handshake between colleagues outside modern building.
Negotiation mistakes to avoid. KnowledgeCity.

Why the Hiring Process Matters

The average cost-per-hire can reach well over $4,000, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). With costs like these, identifying employees that possess the right job skills for your organization has never been more important. If you’ve made mistakes in the recruitment process before, you are not alone. One notable example comes from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who estimates bad hires have cost the online shoe and clothing company well over $100 million.

Top 5 Job Skills to Look for in Your Candidates

Industry and position-specific skills will obviously be of varying priority for employers. However, these five traits are job skills that every good employer should prioritize to determine which candidates have the highest potential value.

1.      Communication Skills

When most employers begin formulating a list of skills and qualities they want, many instinctively jot down communication skills. Unfortunately, many managers do this without stopping to think what communication truly means in the context of the workplace. While it’s true that communication skills often land at or near the top of many manager’s job skills lists, understanding what communication is in relation to the workplace is vital.

Workplace communication consists of far more than simply speaking with people and relaying information. Understanding how to say things, how to comprehend what people say to you, and how to do so effectively through various channels is paramount for most employers. Candidate cover letters and initial interviews stand as tent pole segments of the hiring process for identifying valuable communication skills.

2.      Tech Savvy Job Skills

In years past, being “familiar” or even “proficient” in a few basic computer skills was enough to get by. In today’s corporate world, the top talent are all completely fluent when it comes to understanding technology, regardless of industry.

Locating candidates that understand technology not only ensures your organization immediate success but a higher likelihood of future success as well. Finding tech-savvy employees that share your goals puts your organization in a position to continue moving forward.

3.      Organization

Ideally, employees find ways to add value to the workplace in a manner that is both effective and time-efficient. A disorganized employee often spends time figuring out how to work as opposed to actively working towards a productive goal. These disorganized employees can severely reduce your company’s overall productivity.

In a time when many employees cite work-life balance as a top priority and employers are experimenting with shortened work weeks, finding organized employees that can work efficiently while still producing results is more important now than ever before.

4.      Problem Solving

According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), more than 70 percent of employers cite problem-solving abilities as a desirable trait for employees to possess. Regardless of the issue, employees that possess the job skills to solve problems can quickly and effectively reach logical conclusions. This helps save managers’ time and helps the entire operation function more efficiently.

No matter what kind of job you’re looking to fill, there will inevitably be some obstacle that requires conquering. Identifying candidates that understand the process of solving these problems safeguards your team from needing to pick up the slack somewhere down the road.

5.       Coachability

When it comes to structured competition, coachability remains a highly sought after trait. This is also true of successful employees in the workplace. You may play in a different field, but the end goal is the same for your team as anyone else’s. Finding employees with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn should be considered a high priority.

Furthermore, those that are coachable are not only willing to learn but have a genuine interest in it. Not only do they seek out learning opportunities, they demonstrate the ability to apply what they learn into their work.

Coachable employees understand that they never know absolutely everything and that there is always room to learn and grow. This ensures their own continued personal growth but also much more. While coachable employees continue to improve, their contributions to your organization will as well.


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