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The Top Ten Skills That Employers Want [Part 1]

Posted by Michael D. Haberman

skills

Rapidly changing technology is in the news every day. Headlines about robots replacing workers, AI taking work from office workers, and driverless trucks and cars are making workers and employers wonder what skills will be necessary to keep people employed.

If only HR recruiters had a checklist that could precisely tell them what to look for when selecting their candidates. With so many requirements, recruiters can easily fall into the trap of wanting “everything” from “everybody”. But the truth is, most employers want only ten valuable skills. Below is a list I compiled from a variety of sources.

To fend off the robot coming to take your job, you need to have more “people” skills than technical skills. If you read my post “The Top Five Soft Skills Necessary for the HR Professional,” you will get an inkling of what I mean by people skills. Gerd Leonhard, who I wrote about in “Future Friday: Lost your job to a robot, sorry but re-education will no longer secure your rescue,” says that jobs in science, government, law, and surgery–just as much as those in manufacturing, transportation, and hotel services–will be replaced, and productivity will become the task of robots. He says, “The richly ironic fact is that the truly human skills (such as artisan and craft abilities) that preceded the industrial revolution will now be the only ones that will guarantee fruitful employment in future.”

Skill Number One: Effective Communication

The ability to clearly and effectively communicate is important for both humans and machines. The old saying “Garbage in, garbage out” applies to both computers and people. The ability to hone a message in a written format is critical, especially in the social media age where messages are being truncated. Getting your point across in 140 characters can be vitally important. Spoken communication is equally critical as speeches are being truncated, too.  TED talks, often 15 minutes or less, generally get the more views than traditional speeches for other occasions.

Skill Number Two: Critical Thinking

Computers, hence robots, are very good at quickly processing massive amounts of data according to programmed algorithms. However, the nuances of interpreting that data require a more critical and human approach to making those decisions. Not every situation requires the same response, such as a robot might make.

Skill Number Three: Teamwork and Collaboration

The power of the collective cannot be underestimated. Even computers work together to produce a more powerful computational machine. Today, and in the future, the ability to effectively collaborate and work on a team will be an essential skill. Employees working in positions that do not engage their collaboration “muscle” are selling themselves short.

Skill Number Four: Flexibility and Adaptability

With the ever-increasing speed of change, no situation will stay the same for long. Employees must become masters of handling VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). In other words, they must quickly adapt to new situations and be flexible in thought.

Skill Number Five: Innovation

Innovation will come about as a result of the first four skills; however, we have to develop the skill to grasp new ideas and create new ways of doing things. In the coming world, the inability to move forward is not just standing still, it is moving backward.

Curious to see the next five skills needed by employers? Hint: They are about people, vision, and empathy. Stay tuned for the next part of this article to find out why each of these skills is so crucial to your organization.

About Michael D. Haberman

Author

Michael D. Haberman is Vice-President and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc., a consulting and services company offering complete Human Resources solutions. As the former founder and President of MDH Consulting, a Human Resources consulting firm, Mike has more than 35 years of experience in Human Resources, and he uses his broad-based background to help companies solve employee problems and deal with governmental compliance.

4 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Ken July, 19, 2017

    Thank you for your article. I really like to have a structure in our skills requirements, and, even though I always have these soft skills in mind, I never thought of writing them down. I usually have focused more on the hard skills and have compromised on some of the soft skills. But after reading this article, I will pay more attention.

  • Mariah July, 19, 2017

    Great summary of what an HR department should really look for when hiring its people. I would also add the skill of thinking out of the box. We need creative and flexible people in our lives.

  • Neil July, 19, 2017

    I am really looking forward to reading the next part of this article. These skills were right on spot. Thank you again.

  • Robert Gately July, 20, 2017

    Michael, the are effective methods for identifying future succesful employees. The on we use evaluates the following 3 areas.

    1 – Thinking Styles (5 scales)
    – Learning Index: an index of expected learning, reasoning and problem solving potential.
    – Verbal Skill: a measure of verbal skill through vocabulary.
    – Verbal Reasoning: using words as a basis in reasoning and problem solving.
    – Numerical Ability: a measure of numeric calculation ability.
    – Numeric Reasoning: using numbers as a basis in reasoning and problem solving.

    2 – Behavioral Traits (9 scales)
    – Energy Level: tendency to display endurance and capacity for a fast pace.
    – Assertiveness: tendency to take charge of people and situations. Leads more than follows.
    – Sociability: tendency to be outgoing, people-oriented and participate with others.
    – Manageability: tendency to follow policies, accept controls & supervision, work within the rules.
    – Attitude: tendency to have a positive attitude regarding people and outcomes.
    – Decisiveness: uses available information to make decisions quickly.
    – Accommodating: tendency to be friendly, cooperative, agreeable. To be a team person.
    – Independence: tendency to be self-reliant, self-directed, independent action and make decisions.
    – Objective Judgment: the ability to think clearly and be objective in decision-making.

    3 – Occupational Interests (6 scales)
    – Enterprising: occupations where they use persuasiveness and enjoy presenting plans
    – Financial/Administrative: work with financial data, business systems, admin. procedures, etc.
    – People Service: occupations that help people and they are concerned with the welfare of others.
    – Technical: occupations that center on scientific/technical activities, research & intellectual skills.
    – Mechanical: in occupations that work with tools, equipment and machinery.
    – Creative: occupations where they are imaginative, original and aesthetic.

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Guest July, 20, 2017