Employers are increasingly looking for certain skills that will benefit their organization.
Though the list of skills is practically unlimited, there are certain ones that have common application across business lines, and that increase your value as an employee.
And the truth is that even if you are your own boss running a home-based business, these skills will come in quite handy.
Here are 10 sought-after skills that employers are actually looking for:
1. Communication Skills
In order to be able to perform effectively, you need to be able to communicate effectively. That isn't lost on employers. They look for candidates who can not only write coherently and persuasively, but also to do the same when speaking. Listening is another communication skill.
In order to be able to either speak or write clearly, you must first demonstrate the ability to listen to what is being said.
Good communication skills demonstrate strong management potential. The ability to clearly articulate your ideas - as well as company goals and directives - is a foundational leadership skill.
Fluency in a foreign language is another important part of communication skills. Certainly not every job requires this skill, but having it can open career doors that aren't available to the English-only candidate.
2. Computer Proficiency
It should come as no surprise that nearly every employer today is computer dependent - it's just a matter of to what degree. To be successful you must at least have general proficiency in working with computer technology. You should have strong working knowledge of popular computer applications, such as word processing, email and spreadsheets.
You should also have mastery of the software applications that are common in your industry. Even though there are different applications in each industry, you should have sufficient understanding of one that would provide the basis for becoming proficient in another.
Budget cuts have led to short staffing in many industries. Employers put a premium on the ability of their hires to work independently, and to complete tasks and assignments accurately and on time. It's the kind of skill that's developed through real-world experience. If your abilities as a self-starter have been demonstrated in other work assignments, positive peer references will be the best evidence. That means that you will need to make being a self-starter a regular part of your work routine.
4. Problem Solving
This is the ability to gather and analyze information, then to use creativity and reasoning skills to find the best solutions. An employer may test you on this front by giving you a real or made-up problem and asking how you would solve it.
And much like being a self-starter, problem solving is largely a skill that you develop through experience. It is often the result of being one of the "go-to" people in a department or company. When a problem arises, does your employer come to you for solutions, or do they go to others?
5. Sales Skills
Most every job today involves some degree of sales. Reductions in staff means it's more likely that you will have direct contact with both current and potential customers and clients. You need to have some sort of sales skills to be able to represent your company in a compelling way.
This doesn't mean that you need to be a career salesperson. But it does mean that you should be able to demonstrate a public personality that an employer will see as a good fit among people both within and outside the organization.
The business world is not only changing rapidly, but also perpetually. In order to survive, employers need a staff that's highly flexible. They will look for people who bring flexibility to the job. Flexibility is about more than just being ready for whatever happens. It's also the ability to juggle multiple tasks, and to be able to set priorities that will enable you to complete the most important ones first.
7. Presentation Skills
If you hope to be promoted, presentation skills are a must. It's a skill that successful people in management and sales have, and which you need to have in some measure. Presentation skills will give you the ability to be able to present ideas and concepts in a persuasive way. Those who are the best at this skill are often the front runners in any organization.
Employers will look for presentation skills as evidence of leadership ability. In many positions, you will be required to pitch plans and ideas to clients, coworkers and management. The more at ease you are in doing so, the stronger your job candidacy will be.
8. Creativity and Innovation
Creativity and innovation are close cousins of problem-solving. Resources don't always exist to deal with the problems that an organization faces. Creativity and innovation can enable you to come up with strategies to deal with problems within the constraints of limited options and resources. This will require a certain amount of thinking outside-the-box, and coming up with workable, cost efficient solutions to business problems.
9. Social Media Skills
This is a relatively new skill set, but as the social media grows in importance, it's becoming more desirable. This is particularly true if you will be in any position involving customer contact, such as marketing, sales, and customer service related functions.
When customers and clients are looking for information about a company or its products, they often start with social media. Many employers even monitor social media specifically for this purpose. It's now an important point of contact between organizations and clients, as well as the general public.
It may even help if you already have a strong social media presence on a personal level, as comfort with the media is closely correlated to ability to harness it.
10. Data Analytics
One of the outcomes of greater reliance on computer technology has been an explosion in the amount of data that's available to business. The ability to analyze and interpret data in a way that will benefit a business is becoming increasingly important.
As an example, businesses engaged in e-commerce - which is increasingly all businesses - analyze website traffic and navigation patterns to determine which customers are more likely to buy certain products or services based on their previous purchases or viewing activities. The ability to identify and analyze that data is an increasingly important skill.
This isn't to imply that you need to have all 10 of these skills in order to be successful in your career. But the more you have, the more value you will bring.