The Skills You Need In This Tough Job Market

I remember a recent conversation I had with a client who’s also a good friend. She had moved on from a job working as a manager of a team of about 100 people to managing another team within the same organisation. She was replaced by a gentleman with almost 15 years experience working in the organisation.
A few months later she bumped into her replacement and asked how he was getting on with the job.
Straight away he started complaining – ‘My people are so difficult’ he said, ‘they’re such a pain in the backside’ he continued’.
That’s wierd’ she replied, ‘because when I worked with them, they were brilliant’.
What I suspect will happen is over the next few months isthe performance of that gentlemans team will begin to slip, the team will lose a few highly talented members and then the organisation would move the guy to a role where he is likely to cause less damage.
There was another scenario with a young lady who was quite frustrated because she was regularly being ignored when opportunities arose within her team for promotion, she felt she was more experienced and competent than others who were being offered these opportunities and was begining to wonder if they were just being racist or sexist towards her.
I spent some time with her and I quickly figured out what the problem was, it was the same problem the gentleman from the previous example had. A problem that was highlighted by the Evening Standard in the September 9 issue of the paper.
 It was a really thought provoking article that inspired me to write this piece.
Let me quote the first paragraph from the article titled ‘Attitude and Aptitude Matter’ ;

” It’s a problem particularly among graduates and school leavers – but also something that many jobseekers lack. It seems that however good a candidate’s academic qualifications and ability to perform practical, task oriented skills, what potential employers are actually looking for are the interpersonal skills needed to succeed in the workplace”

The article went on to say that research has shown that while good grades and sound technical ability are still required, what employers really want are the so- called ‘soft skills’.
It also higlighted that the 4 most valued competencies by employers are:
  1. Organising & Executing
  2. Analysing & Interpreting
  3. Interacting & presenting and
  4. Supporting & Cooperating
While research found that a lot of people excel at the first two, they rate most poorly on the last two suggesting that most people struggle when it comes to communication and working effectively with others.
This article did not suprise me at all, in fact it’s only just confirmed what I’ve known for years.
 For over 15 years I’ve worked as a pioneering president of a university club, a youth pastor, a business builder, trainer and coach as well  a corporate leadership and management development specialist and I have come across so many smart people whose career progression has been frustrated by poorly developed ‘soft skills’.
While it is good to work hard to graduate with a 2.1 or even a first class if you want to succeed in the marketplace you have to work extra hard at developing your ‘soft skills’.
The truth is that there are many people out there who have a high level of technical competence, so when there is competition for limited opportunities in the marketplace, then it’s usually those with better people or ‘soft’ skills that stand out and are handed opportunities afterall technical knowledge is easily imparted but soft or people skills takes a lot of personal development on the individuals part.
Who is likely to be offered the job, the one who scored 7 out of 10 in technical knowledge and 5 out of 10 in communication and interpersonal skills he one who scored 5 out of 10 in technical knowledge and 7 out of 10 in communication interpersonal skills?
According to research it is the second person that most leading organisations would offer the job too.
So, what do you need to do now, it’s quite simpe really, invest in the skills that employers are looking for and you will become more employable.
Feel free to share your thoughts below.
To your success,
DJ Sobanjo



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