What Skills Are Employers Looking For

Competition in today’s job market is higher than ever, keeping both candidates and employers on their toes. It’s not just about demonstrating job tenure and having the required levels of education anymore. Today, recruiters and hiring managers are looking for things that they might not find on paper and there are a lot of different places they can find them. For example, recruiters are scouring through social media profiles and other online sources to find the best candidates.

Related: Your Online Presence

If it’s not job tenure and education, then what are employers really looking for? The answer: a combination of both hard and soft skills, including your technical ability, work style, and even what you do in your spare time.

Showcasing Your Skills on Paper

Before jumping into what you do for fun, let’s talk a little about how these key skills work for you and why you need them on your resume. Every job site and employer database uses something called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), a form of recruiter software that sorts, stores, and filters through candidate resumes. Recruiters and hiring managers enter into these systems and type in keywords like “Salesforce” or “Payroll” to find candidates that match their open positions. If you don’t have the skills that recruiters are looking for, your resume won’t come up.

Most often, recruiters and hiring managers are filtering first by location. This is why it is helpful to have your location at the top of your resume as well as next to each role held in the form of “City, State” and the state abbreviated (for example, “Florida” becomes “FL”). Next, they may search by the company or industry that you worked for. As long as you have included the employer’s name, most of today’s software is intuitive enough to pick up on which industry they belong in.

The most common type of search is by keywords in the form of previous job titles and skillsets. For example, they may search for someone with a “Financial Analyst” background or maybe they need someone with a “PMP” certificate. This is where things get a bit tricky, for example if you have a degree in Business but wrote it as “BS” and not spelled out “Bachelor of Science”, your resume might get overlooked. Or if the keyword search is “Series 7” and on your resume you have “Series 6 & 7”, your resume might also get overlooked.

Recruiters also use something called boolean search operators to find someone with this but not that. This might be used if they want to find candidates that did not previously work for a specific company or someone in human resources but not a recruiter role. It’s always a good idea to understand how employers conduct searches so that you can enhance your resume to meet those processes.

It is also important to know that showcasing your skills online and on your resume vs. in an interview are two different things. On paper, it is easy to say that you have leadership ability, but in an interview, they are going to ask for specific examples.

Skills to Demonstrate in an Interview

Interviewing skills one of the skills you will need to demonstrate. It seems obvious, but the ability to have a one-on-one conversation with someone, engage him or her by answering questions thoroughly and concisely is a big deal, especially if you are interviewing for a sales or customer service role.

Part of this will be your listening skills. Make sure you remember the names and titles of people you are introduced to. Make sure you are listening thoroughly to the entire question that they are asking, so you can answer accurately.

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When it is your turn to ask questions, make sure to circle back to things they may have mentioned or discussed with you specific to the company, interviewer or job itself. For example, maybe the company recently went through a merger, expansion of some kind or changed it’s processes, implemented new software, etc.. Use your own experience of a time you had to adapt to change.

Confidence is another major skill that employers look for in candidates. It is a key component to being a strong leader but employers also want to feel assured that you are confident in your skills and ability to do the job and do it well. When you are discussing your educational background and skills you have gained over time, make sure to bring in key examples and projects you successfully completed.