Newsflash: When it comes to the job market, employers are in the driver’s seat. While many industries report they will be looking to make new hires in the New Year, they are also sending strong signals that they expect workers to come equipped with more skills, making them more productive. So if you’re looking to land a new job or get that long-awaited promotion, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal warns that basic competency isn’t enough, and spells out the four top “must-have” skills for today’s job seekers.
1. Communication, communication, communication. It doesn’t matter where you are in the job hierarchy, good communication skills are essential.
"This is really the ability to clearly articulate your point of view and the ability to create a connection through communication," says a recruitment executive at a New York-based accounting and consulting firm.
And while developing interpersonal skills is important, it is also essential to be vigilant about how you present yourself in written correspondence. As more office interaction goes online, one expert warns that technology can be a real double edged sword.
"Technology in some ways has taken away our ability to write well,” he observes. “People are in such a hurry that they are multitasking and they get sloppy and skip basics such as spelling and proofing.
2. Building your personal brand. What you put out on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs are all elements in creating your personal profile. Be scrupulous about what your post on these sites—human resources personnel have become skilled at searching out how job applicants represent themselves on social media.
"More and more employers are looking for employees to tweet on their behalf, to blog on their behalf, to build an audience and write compelling, snappy posts," counsels one career coach.
So think carefully about what you’re putting on your Facebook page and what you’re tweeting—your next job could depend on it!
3. Flexibility and adaptability. The corporate landscape is constantly shifting, and employers are looking for people who can keep up.
"A lot of companies want us to work with their employees about how to get out of their comfort zone, how to adapt," says one job expert. "Somebody's job today may not be the same as next year."
Most human resources executives agree that having the ability to learn new skills is an invaluable asset.
"We want to know that if we roll out a new program or new tools that the folks we have on board are going to be open to learning," says one executive.
4. Productivity. A recent report from the Corporate Executive Board, a business research and advisory firm, indicates that of the employers surveyed, most are looking for employees to improve their productivity by 20 percent in the next year. And the way to improve your productivity is to become proactive.
"When you are at your job, do you volunteer for projects? Are you looking for creative ways to help your organization," says one board executive.
Or as one expert describes the current employment landscape, due to the soft economy employers have been forced to cut the “fat” from their operating budgets. Now, as these employers start to add new hires, they are looking to add “muscle,” and that means they are looking for job candidates with the potential to grow with a business.
"My clients are looking for employees that have a great ability to understand what is wanted and needed, rather than needing to be told," says one hiring consultant.
Today’s job market is still tight, but heeding these four tips can go a long way toward giving you a leg up on landing that great new job.