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12 Essential Skills Every Employee Should Have

When searching for the right candidate to fill a job, we often focus on the applicant’s work experience and level of education. Sometimes it is all about who they know or who referred them. But what we should really focus on is the candidate’s skills. There are certain skills employers want in every candidate, no matter what role they will fill. From entry-level workers to executives, every employee should possess these personal skills in order to succeed and help your company move forward. These include:

  1. CommunicationMore than two-thirds of recruiters across all industries say communication is the most important skill they look for. Good verbal and written communication skills are often thought of as a given, but not everyone can communicate effectively in one or both. Make sure the candidates you consider have proven effective communication skills.

  2. Decision-MakingYou may think decision-making skills are only needed for upper management, but that is not true. Every employee should be able to make smart, quick decisions that benefit the company, regardless of what role they play.

  3. FlexibilitySome jobs offer a lot of variety while others are more predictable. But even employees in routine jobs should be flexible to be able to adjust quickly when something does not go as planned.

  4. CommitmentHiring candidates that show a commitment to their employer and are engaged at work is a smart financial decision because they contribute to overall productivity and are less likely to leave

  5. InnovationInnovation is not just for scientists and inventors. According to a PWC Global Innovation Survey, 43% of the executives interviewed said that innovation is a “competitive necessity” for their company.

  6. IntegrityAlthough we wish it were not true, not all candidates are honest and trustworthy. You want candidates who will follow procedures and company standards, understand when something is confidential, and speak up when they witness something wrong or inappropriate.

  7. LeadershipLeadership is not just important for senior-level employees. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 38% of respondents said being able to inspire and motivate others is an skill employees at all levels should cultivate. So, it is important to look for candidates who demonstrate leadership and mentoring skills.

  8. Life-long LearningLife-long learners are interested in continuing to learn new skills, not just for their current role but for future ones as well. When reviewing resumes, look for candidates who have several degrees or certificates and have taken courses or received additional training to improve their job skills and expertise.

  9. MotivationGood employees show up and do their work. Great employees are motivated and passionate about their work. As Daniel Pink explains in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, “It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine-to-five. It is whether our work fulfills us.”

  10. NegotiationGood negotiation skills are not just needed on your sales team. Candidates with this skill are able to discuss and reach agreement with others. They can explain concepts and effectively advocate for a particular course of action.

  11. TeamworkNearly three-fourths of employers rated teamwork and collaboration as “very important,” according to a Queens University survey. Every employee you hire should be able to work confidently and effectively within a group. The ability to work with others is an important quality to look for when you are evaluating candidates, even if they will not have to work on a team all the time,

  12. Time ManagementJust about every job requires employees to wear many different hats. Look for candidates who know how to successfully manage their time, and who can prioritize tasks and meet deadlines. Candidates who have most—if not all—of these skills should be the one you hire to build a team that will help your company meet its goals and objectives.


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