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Ask James Caan – Issue 110

Written by Kimberley Startup | September 6, 2012 | 1 Comment

James Caan Online RecruitmentDear Member,

What does it take to succeed in today’s competitive job market?

Many job seekers wish they could unlock the secret formula to winning over and influencing an employer’s hiring decision. But what is that unique combination of skills and values that make candidates stand out from the crowd?

Whilst each employer is looking for a specific set of skills that match the necessary needs to perform a particular job, beyond this, there are other skills, namely employability skills (also known as transferable skills) that are typically sought by employers, regardless of size or industry.

This leads me onto a question I received this week from Idrissa. She asked me what I thought are the best skills to develop when looking for a job.

For me, Idrissa, getting the right candidate for a role means identifying the person with the correct skills and qualities to fulfil the role and contribute to an organisation’s success.

When I look at a candidate’s CV, I consider how they demonstrate the value they could bring to the business. What are their unique selling points – the skills that really make them stand out? If a candidate has identified ways to give them self the competitive edge – whether that is gaining industry insight, networking or studying to brush up on knowledge – they have my attention.

In today’s candidate-saturated market; one where competition is fierce, the employer is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing candidates. Employers can now afford to be more open with their requirements and think strategically by looking at the potential value a candidate can bring in the long term.

As such, there are critical employability skills that employers across all sectors demand of job-seekers. Particularly if you’re looking for a change of direction, transferable skills can help you to move across job titles and into new industry sectors. These include things such as communication, leadership, problem-solving and computer literacy skills.

Of equal importance to these skills are values, personality traits and personal characteristics. These include traits such as honesty, resilience, integrity, loyalty and passion. Are you a risk taker who is open to new ideas? Will you keep going until the problem is solved and the job is done?

Employability skills and personal values are critical tools and traits you need to succeed in any workplace. The good news is that most people possess these skills to some extent. But if there are weaknesses, there are many ways you can acquire, develop and improve them.

As a starting point, Idrissa, I suggest identifying the kind of job you want to do. That way, you know the skills and experience that this type of role requires and you can easily identify what skills are best to develop in order to fill any gaps.

If you think back to past jobs, hobbies and other activities, it’s likely you already have the required employability skills. For example, you may have organised a charity event demonstrating your planning and organisational skills. If you suggested changes to a work process, this demonstrates your initiative and how you identify opportunities to achieve goals.

If there are areas you do consider weaker, you could always seeking training, professional development or obtaining a coach or mentor?

In today’s ever-changing market, it’s important to demonstrate the talents that you bring to any organisation.

The value of employability skills increases everyday as hiring manager’s struggle to identify the best from the hundreds of applicants applying. Whilst qualifications and experience may be necessary, more and more employers are now looking for your more human touch.

What skills do you think are most valued by employers? If you have any tips, please share them with the group below.


James Caan

One thought on “Ask James Caan – Issue 110

  1. Pingback: What skills are most valued in today’s job market? James Caan reveals all… | Bournemouth University Placements & Careers Service Blog

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