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5 Skills that Are More Important than Experience

What do employers look for when they are hiring a new employee?  You might be surprised.  Of course they are seeking a candidate with the technical skills to do the job.  However, they are also looking for someone who will fit in with their team.  Many employers admit that they would be willing to overlook it if a candidate was missing a few of the technical skills if they seemed like a good fit.  What does that mean?  What could be more important than the job requirements?  Here is a list of a few of the skills and traits that employers are always looking for when they evaluate candidates:

Communication Skills.  It is important that your listening, speaking and writing skills are strong.  To be successful, you need to understand people and to make yourself understood.  Good communication skills are an asset in any job.  If you feel that your communication skills could use some work, take a class in public speaking or business writing to improve them.      

Interpersonal Skills.  No matter what the position is, you need to work well with other people.  In order to be a positive addition to the team and to function effectively in your job, you must be able to build relationships with your coworkers.  This skill comes more naturally to some people than it does to others.  If it is a strength for you, then be sure to highlight it in your cover letter and at your interviews.  If it is not a strength, then it is a skill that you need to develop.

Problem Solving Skills.  When it comes down to it, employers are looking for someone who will solve their problems.  They want to make their lives easier and they are hoping that you will do that for them.  The ability to look at a problem, identify what needs to be done, and make a plan to solve it is valuable to employers.  Try to think of examples of problems that you solved at work and be ready to discuss them at the interview.  

Positive Attitude.  Of these five skills and traits, a positive attitude is most important.  If an employee has the wrong attitude, nothing else matters.  An ideal employee is enthusiastic, hardworking, reliable, and works with integrity.  At the interview, the employer will be evaluating your attitude by the way that you answer their questions.          

Flexibility.  In today's work environment, flexibility is essential to your success.  Employers need people who are willing to do whatever needs to be done.  Also, technology is constantly changing the way that we work so we have to be able to quickly adapt.  Stay on top of what's happening in your industry so that you can predict and prepare for the changes before they happen.    

In today's competitive job market, employers aren't just looking for someone who can do the job; they are looking for the full package.  Often it's your technical skills that will get you the interview and your soft skills that will get you the job.     

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at