Land That Job! The 8 Most Important Qualifications and Skills Employers Want

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Oct 4, 2019

Oct 4, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Ask a hiring manager 50 years ago which skills employers want, and they likely would've started with a spiel about some type of college degree in a specific industry.

How times have changed! And that's because the world of education has changed.

In the following article, we'll be looking at just how much it has. We'll also be covering the eight essential skills and qualifications everyone who wants to land a job will need to master in this climate. Let's begin with a question.

What is the Future of Education? 

A study reported earlier this year examined the skills most sought-after by employers and found something not that surprising for anyone who's been paying attention the last two decades.

Employers were less concerned about degrees and more concerned about "soft skills." The simplest way to define these is "people skills."

They enable you to work professionally in both independent and collaborative environments. Unfortunately, not every employer is finding it easy to locate such candidates. 

Soft Skills Shortages Abound

The Morning Consult recently conducted a study of 500 employers and found something surprising and a little troubling. Almost three of every four hiring managers (or 73 percent) were finding it difficult to hire candidates that had a mix of the right market skills and the essential soft skills necessary to fill openings.

The conclusion is clear. "Expertise" and "knowledge" are simply not enough in the current economic environment. And that's not changing any time soon. If you want to stay ahead of this troubling trend, here are the most essential skills and qualifications you'll need.

1. Time Management

One of the first skills employers look for is the ability to manage one's time effectively. They know the old adage of "time is money" rings true. And they need employees who understand that as well.

If time management is a struggle, there are some things you can do. Consider the following: 

  • Focus on one big to-do item per day. Set your sights on accomplishing that one thing. Then, be flexible for additional tasks that come up.
  • Learn to delegate effectively. This is easier if you're in a supervisory role, but it's possible even if you're at the bottom of the organizational chart. Just weigh your strengths against your responsibilities and offer to help a co-worker out with something you're good at if they'll do the same for you on something they're better-equipped to handle.
  • Try the Pomodoro Technique. Created by Francesco Cirillo, this calls for four 25-minute intervals with five-minute breaks at the end of each one. Work hard for those timed intervals and take short breaks to allow for deep work.

Also, ditch the multitasking. No one's really good at it, anyway. It's far better to work through one problem until completion. 

2. Self Motivation

Learning to motivate oneself is another of the many good skills to have for a job. Employers don't want to browbeat you; they want to give you responsibility and rest easy knowing you've got this! 

3. Critical Thinking

This is one of the most valuable job skills you could possess. Critical thinking allows you to work through a problem and find solutions, even if those solutions aren't as textbook-clear as you'd like them to be.

Critical thinking requires two specific work skills to work in conjunction with one another. You need to be able to evaluate a problem and analyze it from multiple angles.

Evaluation + Analysis = Solution!  

4. Communication Skills

Another of the top employment skills is the ability to communicate effectively. Effective communication, at its core, is about being able to explain your decision-making in a direct and concise manner. It's also about listening to others.

Doing this effectively requires a multimedia approach. The subset of skills to be an effective communicator are as follows: 

  • Reading comprehension
  • Active listening
  • Speaking
  • Writing

And, perhaps most importantly, knowing when not to say anything at all. Easier said than done! 

5. Leadership Capabilities

Not every employee has the ability to lead others. Employers understand this. But they also understand the leaders among them are the ones that must be nurtured and elevated in status, pay, and responsibility. 

Being an effective leader requires confidence in your decisions, the ability to delegate the right duties to the right people, and following through to make sure jobs are done right. It also means learning to foster a sense of leadership in the people for whom you're responsible. 

6. Professional Mastery

Professional mastery isn't necessarily a soft skill, but it often takes the other seven soft skills on this list to achieve it. You start your professional mastery with a high school diploma.

If that doesn't work out, it's never too late to get your GED

From there, decide whether you want to go to college, enroll in a trade school, or enter the workforce. All of these are smart professional choices because they'll either prepare you directly for a career or guide you down the right path for furthering your education.

7. Analytical Skills

Analytical skills are necessary on two fronts. First, you need to be able to analyze problems to find solutions. Secondly, you need to analyze the outcomes and your personal actions to see what, if anything, can be done more effectively in the future.

Employers want employees who can do both. So if you're good at analyzing problems but have little sense of self-awareness, then you've got some work to do!

8. Positivity 

You cannot control everything that happens to you or around you. But you can control your attitude about it. 

Employers dread the negative employee because they know how quickly that negativity can spread through their organizations. But employees who remain positive about circumstances, decisions from higher-ups, and even failure, help to build strong company foundations.

Learn to Master the Skills Employers Want

When you master these skills employers want, you stand out to the 73 percent of employers who are wondering where their next great employees will come from.

Are you ready to live up to that? Then check out some of our open positions today!