Skills Employers Look For

Mary Gormandy White
Executive Career Coach
Beth Ross, Ph.D., Executive Career Coach

Wondering what skills employers look for when screening applicants? Who better to answer that question than an expert career coach? Executive Career Coach Beth Ross, Ph.D., shared her expertise about the job search process with LoveToKnow Jobs Editor Mary White. No matter what type of job you're looking for, you'll benefit from Ross's insights.

What traits do employers tend to value the most in job applicants?

Employers of course must have the requisite skills needed for a specific position, but basically they want and need to hire people who are like them. The consummate team player will most likely contribute in a substantial to bottom-line results, Employers value loyalty, honesty, enthusiasm, and an established work ethic.

The interview process is crucial in establishing the fact that the interviewee can look and act the part-no matter what the level of the position. It is essential that the interviewee exhibit enthusiasm for the position, but most importantly-knowledge of the company, and its problems, if any.

Always remembering to act the part of a "consultant" can be invaluable for a candidate. Employers are always looking for individuals who have the ability to solve problems. Employers value competence and skills. Hiring is expensive. They want and need to hire individuals who will make a valued contribution to the company effort, and individuals who are coming on-board for the long term.

What are the biggest misperceptions people tend to have about what skills employers look for?

People sometimes go into interviews believing that whatever their skills are can simply be okay for the job, while actually they may just feel they are "smart" and can learn everything fast. They have implied that their background is appropriate for a job, and it isn't. This is a waste of everyone's time.

Employers are indeed looking for loyalty, but it is a misperception to believe that the employer will have total loyalty to the individual being hired. The time of a corporation or company's loyalty to the individual is long gone. Employers are not looking for "lifers". If one gets a specific job, it will not be forever. When you get a position, we cannot count on it be the last one.

Employers are looking for individuals to solve current problems. If they're looking now, it is for "now", and "today". Don't try to look down the line to retirement.

What should job seekers do to identify their transferable skills when preparing for a career change?

Skills are transferable, but one has to establish what these skills are-particularly as it may relate to a a new job in a different industry.

As a career coach, I initially work with clients on identifying and assessing their skills. We discover what lights them from within.. It's quite incredible for some people to come to the realization that, yes, they CAN love what they do and get paid well for it.Then the individual has to identify Targets where their skills will transfer.

From that we move to how one makes direct contact with decision makers. People transitioning from one career to another must work on becoming an "insider" in a new field. This means joining professional associations, going to networking meetings, meeting with experts in the new field, and a host of other activities. It's work!-but the rewards are there. The more of this work one does, the clearer one becomes on which skills are transferable to the new career.

Remember: you are actually working from a point of advantage. You aren't bringing old baggage to the new career-not holding onto the past. It's all new. You are a life-time learner. You are staying on the cutting edge of the new.

What suggestions do you have for job seekers who are trying to determine what parts of their backgrounds to emphasize when looking for a new job?

You can't put in everything! Emphasize only that which will open doors to interviews and discussions. Remember that every situation is unique and handled differently.

When employers review resumes, what portions do they focus their attention on?

On the PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY. Period. A resume gets 20 to 40 seconds of perusal, and seldom more. The first page needs to be so compelling they can't put it down. The cover letter is often much more important, so don't forget that.

How can working with a career coach help job seekers better prepared to sell themselves to prospective employers?

A good career coach knows today's job market, and has the requisite background and experience of an established expert.

A career coach brings objectivity to a very emotional situation. Selling oneself in today's market takes strategy and determination. Two brains are better than one-especially if one is an expert. Having a Coach will keep the job seeker on track and facilitate getting the new job in record time.

Even though one may elect to take a "bridge job" that moves toward a defined career path, if everything is done according to protocol, the results will be impressive. Time will be saved.

A coach can effectively prepare and package you for the job search process. Choose someone you really like, and be sure that their credentials are impeccable. The investment in a Career Coach will be one of the best you will ever make.


LoveToKnow Jobs would like to thank Bess Ross, Ph.D. for sharing her expertise related to the subject of skills employers look for and wishes her continued success in her executive and career coaching practice.

Skills Employers Look For