What Employers Look For: Performance Skills Are Critical To Career Success

By Kristen Harris

Whether searching for a new position, or looking to advance your current career, it’s necessary to understand the skills and traits employers are looking for.  In an environment where education and training is fairly accessible, it is possible for technical skills to become a commodity. If so, then what will set you apart from all the other candidates when applying for a position?

In a recent survey, Portfolio Creative found performance skills (how you do the work) to be at least as important as technical skills (the work you do).

Clients were asked to rank the importance of five key areas considered when evaluating a candidate. While software skills, experience level, work samples and work history were all considered to be equally and moderately important, performance skills ranked higher in importance than all other categories.

Performance skills, or “soft skills,” are the behaviors exhibited while doing the work. They’re really the way you approach your work and manage your projects. Going beyond knowing software or being able to execute a task, it’s also being able to communicate clearly, set and achieve goals, and work well with your team.

In Portfolio Creative’s survey the highest ranking skills were team player, goal-oriented self-starter, takes direction well, excellent communicator, flexibility/multi-tasking ability, and adaptable. While there was some difference, the ranking of these top skills were quite close so they can all be considered equally important.

What does this mean to a job seeker or someone looking to advance their career? Being aware that these performance skills are so important to employers is key. A potential employer may be willing to teach a technical skill or overlook a little less experience for someone who has the right attitude and fits in well with their team.

When working on your resume or interviewing techniques, be sure to emphasize your performance at least as much as your technical skills and work experience. By demonstrating strong performance skills, you show the employer an understanding of how to work successfully and create positive outcomes that can be replicated.

While technical skills can be trained and several candidates may have similar experience, strengthening and emphasizing your performance skills can really set you apart from the pack, and set you up for success.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.
©2009 Kristen Harris, Portfolio Creative, LLC.