5 intangible skills that YPs need in a Job
Image by US Army Korea - IMCOM via Flickr
In my last post we looked at five mostly tangible areas that if young professionals paid more attention to, would land them a job. However, while getting a job may seem like an exact science, it its far from it. It's not just have a good resume, friendly references and a strong interview. It also requires skills that just can't be searched on Wikipedia.
In December, I moderated a workforce readiness panel geared toward Millennials and afterward I asked two of the panels human resource executives, Susan Bunz of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. and Jenifer Owenson of Ankeny Community Schools, about their thoughts on necessary skills at work.
1. Integrity: I touched on this as one of the three planks of leadership, but human resources is looking for people who will not be problems later on. If you cause problems, whether it's with the customer, client, colleague or chief, It costs the company money. Ultimately, if the company has reason not to trust you, why would they risk investing a lot of dough hiring you? A business will go to great lengths to ensure they hire someone with integrity. Beyond a background check, they may Google your name, search for photos of you on Facebook, read your tweets and even pull your credit score. These measures you may feel are unfair to your privacy, but for the investment they are making in employing you, they want to make sure they are not making a mistake.
2. Confidence: If you are lucky enough to score an interview make sure you exude confidence, but caution, as there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. A confident employee means he or she will be efficient, customers and clients will be satisfied and the employee will contribute to a positive environment. However, when an employee is arrogant he will make mistakes, clients will feel disrespected and the work environment feels poisoned. In the interview they are looking for someone who strikes that right balance of assurance without cockiness.
3. Critical Thinking is one of the areas that HR is most concerned that millennials don't seem to have enough. Your employer can train you to do the specific job you were hired for, but being able to think on your feet, use deduction, and inference are invaluable skills. Many Millennials understand the science of work and can follow the formula, but the challenge is being able to understand the art of work and recognizing how how the aspects flow together.
4. Written Communication Skills: In the millennial world of text messaging and 140 character conversations, brevity is now par. Abbreviations and small words may be efficient, however, HR executives are concerned that young professionals lack basic writing skills to be effective in the workplace. This goes past the margin of syntax and grammar; it also includes command of the English language beyond the same overused 10,000 words. Words have meanings and the more we use them will sometimes help the reader clearly understand what you, the writer, is thinking. Also worth mentioning is that though we all may feel like our ideas are fresh when they barely meet (or miss) deadline, remember it's still embarrassing to read several typos that could have been proofed, or worse yet have your letter be read by an unintended audience, because you forgot to change the salutation.
5. Oral Communication Skills: It seems like everyone hated their high school speech class, afraid that they would freeze up on stage and be embarrassed for life. Ironically, the world is full of great speakers who can't get anything done and poor orators who have accomplished much. So what gives? Forget about the words. Communication has more to do with our non-verbals than anything else. Our tone, timing, body language and facial expression say more than the actual words we speak. It's not about memorizing big phrases or saying something that will one day be quoted and etched in stone. It's more about connecting to your audience whether that's an audience of one or 1,000. It's about providing stellar customer service, keeping your colleagues in the loop and responding to your boss's call.