career success

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.

Surprising Traits Key to Career Success

Great recent article about three suprising characteristics that help people succeed in their careers. Humility. Faith. Optimism. Not what you were expecting, right? Once again it's clear how it takes more than skills, training and work experience to succeed in today's job market. Those may be the expected, base-level requirements, but employers are looking for more in their ideal candidate. Humility. A rare trait, and one that may not be expected at higher levels. Think you only get ahead by being cutthroat and climbing the ladder on the backs of others? That may bring you short-term gain, but not long-term success. Few people get to higher levels without supporters and mentors, and by being a supporter and mentor to others as well, they gain a support system that lasts their entire career. Faith. Believing in what you do, and what your company does, may sound a little trite. But honestly, how can you spend the amount of time and energy that is required to succeed on something you don't care about? If you don't believe in your company, product, job or mission, find something you can believe in. It may not mean changing jobs, maybe it's just gaining a better understanding of what you do and why it's important. Optimism. Frankly, no one wants to work with the sad-sack or constant complainer. Taking the optimistic view about yourself, your career, company and role leads to much more positive daily interactions. No one can afford to just blindly follow, we all have to take care of ourselves of course. But if you assume the best while asking the right questions, you'll be both optimistic and realistic.