Alternative skills employers may look for

As the business world evolves, employers are increasingly looking for more than just the typical skills that most candidates put on their CV. Traditional qualities like being a team player, being able to solve problems and make decisions, and good communication skills are still essential of course, and should be taken as read. However, just as companies need to stay abreast of changing trends in business in order to stay competitive, so job candidates should keep an eye on what is required from them at an interview and in the role they will hopefully be filling.

Outside of the box

Employers value employees who can think outside of the box, and at interviews they will often be looking outside of the box when asking questions of a candidate. Computer proficiency is necessary for almost any job these days, but employers increasingly look for more specialist skills, beyond a basic knowledge of Microsoft Word or Excel. HTML programming and website design may not be specifically required in a job, but the candidate with these skills on their CV shows a willingness and capability to learn and grow, as well as skill sets that could prove extremely useful.

Being able to change roles and perform different functions is another quality many employers look for. Contrary to conventional careers advice, those applicants who have a variety of jobs and employment types on their CV may do better than those who have stayed in one role.

Be a giving person

As companies and corporations are increasingly expected to perform charitable and social functions and to be seen as environmentally aware, so those companies look for these qualities in their employees. Charity begins at home, and a willingness to give something back to the community on the part of an employee, as well as an awareness of issues surrounding sustainability and fair trade, are valuable assets.

Often the most successful business people are the most generous philanthropists. Mertech Group founder Francois van Niekerk donated 70% of his equity to good causes in HIV-related healthcare and early years education, via the Mergon Foundation he co-founded with his wife.

In 2005, the Independent newspaper reported that Lord Laidlaw has sold his conferences business and related how the peer planned to donate least £20m annually to charitable causes. In 2009 he shifted his charitable focus from his native Scotland to his adopted home of South Africa. Laidlaw was one of the wealthiest men in the UK (the Lord sold his collection of racing cars for a reported £17 million) and he has put this wealth to admirable use in the philanthropic sector.

Asset management guru Allan Gray is estimated to have given away over $150m through his Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, which supports education, empowerment and wildlife preservation.

Learning about and following the examples of these philanthropists can help to boost a candidate’s chances of success. They should also be looking to develop life skills and experiences that may not seem directly related to their ultimate career goals, but that help them to be a more well-rounded person, able to adjust to the rapidly changing world of modern business.

A successful job hunter will be continually improving and expanding on their core skills and will be keeping abreast of wider social and environmental issues that will inevitably impact on business and society. This way, they will make sure that they are not only the right person for the job, but also the right person for the company.


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