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How Do You Score On Employers’ Top Five Desired Skills?

The 2011 Job Outlook survey from NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) listed the top 5 candidate skills desired by employers:

  1. Verbal Communication Skills
  2. Strong Work Ethic
  3. Teamwork Skills
  4. Analytical Skills
  5. Initiative

Source: Job Outlook 2011, National Association of Colleges and Employers

While the NACE organization focuses on entry-level careers, the above list is important at all levels to stay competitive. So how do you score?

If you are a jobseeker do you have specific examples for each of the above skills?

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Do you have multiple examples that show a range for each?

For example, regarding verbal communication skills you might highlight your ability to have difficult conversations, your concise and clear communication style, your engaging presentation style, or your ability to communicate effectively with different types of people.

These are all compelling and very different attributes of verbal communication.

For strong work ethic, this could mean working long hours, working a volatile or heavy travel schedule, or working in turnaround situations against all odds. You need to know your unique skills and experience to position yourself effectively for what prospective employers care about.

Even if you are happily employed, work environments and priorities change.

You want to make sure that you are not getting complacent and allowing your skills to rust. The above five skills are always valued, but the standards by which they are measured change over your career. Maybe you got to where you are now because of superior analytical skills and despite below average communication skills, but now you are a manager. You may not get a pass for your lack of communication skills now because proficiency is measured differently at different levels. On the flip side, maybe you were always a great people person with soft analytical skills, but now you have been promoted to running a budget and need to get the numbers to work. The strengths that served you and the weaknesses you could dismiss might be different now. In addition, as situations and people change, your style and approach might need to be modified.

For both the jobseeker and the happily employed, you want to translate the overall top five list to your specific prospective employer’s or current employer’s top five list. You want to know the top five desired skills for your specific industry, functional area at your specific level. These overall survey results are a great framework to start reviewing your skills and experience, but they are not a substitute for paying attention to your market and getting regular feedback from people with whom you regularly interact.

  • How do you score on these 5 commonly desired skills?
  • Do you know if these skills match your target or current area?
  • What do you need to do in the next 30 days, 90 days, 365 days to improve?

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of SixFigureStart® (www.sixfigurestart.com), a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Caroline is a co-author (along with Donald Trump, Jack Canfield and other leading business authors) of "How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times" from Two Harbors Press, 2010. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline has recruited for leading companies in media, financial services, consulting, technology and healthcare.

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

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