What are employers really looking for? Part 1

At Portfolio we're pretty good at knowing and understanding what our clients are looking for, but wanted to dig deeper into what is most important to an employer when they are considering a candidate. Our goal was to understand how important technical skills (what you do) are to our clients versus performance skills (how you do it). We believe technical skills can be trained and could become somewhat of a commodity, but how someone works and approaches their business relationships can really set them apart. We were right, but even more so than we thought.

Clients ranked "performance skills--soft skills like communication, team player, flexible, etc" an entire point higher than anything else, an average of 4.0 out of 5.0 points. This was significantly higher than technical skills, experience level, work samples or work history, all at 2.6-2.9 out of 5.0. (More on these other areas in Part 2.)

The highest ranked skills were team player, goal-oriented self-starter and takes direction well. But they were only slightly higher than excellent communicator, flexibility multi-tasking ability and adaptable. So all of those skills are important to an employer, there is very little difference in the weight given to each. Least important? Sense of humor, leadership and team building, and low ego. But they are still highly ranked, every skill on this list is 2.9-3.7 out of 5.0 points. Clients are saying all of these are important, some are just slightly more important than others.

What does this mean to you? First of all, simply being aware that this is so important to employers is key. They may be willing teach skills or overlook a little less experience for someone who has the right attitude and fits in well with their team. By keeping in mind how influential behavior and performance can be, you have the ability to affect your relationships with co-workers, supervisors and future potential employers. And if you're working on a resume or interviewing, make sure you are emphasizing your performance at least as much as your technical skills and work experience.