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6 Intangible Skills That Can Get You Hired Today

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Want to get hired? Of course you do! Employers are and will be looking for a more holistic group of skill sets in hiring people. The workplace and the world is shifting demographically, socially, and generationally. We’re already seeing this in corporate America with the emergence of women and multi-ethnicity.

It’s not enough to just deliver your core skills. What will make you most valuable and  have the most impact are a combination of your core, personal, and intangible, or soft skills.

Intangible Skills That Can Get You Hired

Here are six intangible skills that can get you hired today and certainly in the future.

1. Adaptability

The “relentlessly changing” world we now live in now requires it’s workers to be able to flow with change, adapt to change and navigate change with a can do it attitude. Those that can adapt the best to personal, policy and leadership change will be valuable assets to their work teams and workplace.

2. Team Player

The most successful sports franchises all have a balance of veteran, experienced and rookies playing together. Working together with people of differing generations, cultures and demographics is a coveted intangible that will become more and more important as our workplace becomes more culturally diverse. Your “human relations” skills be it developing rapport, listening, motivating others or delegating with respect will be what makes you an important part of any team.

3. Leadership

Owning the job you have and making things better and more effective,  instead of just showing up daily to do the same thing is an intangible that will make you stand out. You don’t have to be the “owner,” president, manager or CEO to show leadership. Just look at all the employees honored for their work in the awesome program “Undercover Boss.” Most of these workers just have a strong sense of  personal  pride and work ethic, regardless of their personal lives of showing up to do a great job and making a difference everyday.

4. Multi-Tasker

This is pretty simple. The workplace requires people to do more tasks, jobs and take on more responsibility than ever before. Expect it and get prepared for it. Certainly this should have realistic boundaries.

5. Open-Mindedness

Being open and flexible to learning new skills, approaches and things, interacting with new people, trying new ways of doing things shows a resilience and perseverance to do whatever it takes, to do the job and get it done.

6. Positivity

“Whistle while you work.” Nothing is more attractive and powerful than someone who is a bright spot in anyone’s day and shows up with a positive attitude of gratitude. Leave the personal, heavy stuff at home and come to work ready to greet colleagues and customers and make their day brighter.

You can talk about your intangibles through specific personal stories that demonstrate how you used them. Nothing beats a great, real story that gets people to relate to you. This can be huge competitive advantage in addition to documenting achievement and accomplishment in your core skills.

If you need some help discovering some of your intangibles, think about 3 jobs where you took on a project, made it your own and made it successful. Ask some of your current or past colleagues to tell you what they think your intangible are.

If you need to practice, volunteer outside of work, or ask your boss to give you a small project that can stretch you!

In today’s job seeking world there are your core skills, personal skills and intangible or “soft” skills. More often, if it comes down to you and someone else, the person who has the intangibles usually wins!

What are your intangible skills that have impacted your jobs?


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Deborah Shane

Deborah Shane is an award winning Top 100 Small Business Champion, Top 100 Small Business Podcast and Top Small Business Book by SmallBizTrends.com. Her first book, Career Transition-make the shift, is still a top rated book on Amazon. Her new book, #trusthewhy Fundamentals and Values Get You Through Any Cycle , comes out in 2014.

12 comments

  1. I have all that but I still can’t find a job. No matter what anyone says, it’s still a youthful job market and if your 40+ your chances of getting hired no matter how good you are, are slim to none.

  2. Peter M C Jones (@innov8tor3)

    Be good to see more employers embracing employees who can grow, both into a position and beyond it.

    But that would mean more risk taking and risk management, and less risk aversion and reliance on tick box recruiting.

    This risk aversion seems to mean the pursuit of a usually mythical 100% now, rather than a pareto-based 80% now, 120% in the near future. So many jobs remain vacant because an “exact match” cannot be made. And ridiculously sometimes in junior positions.

    Surely progress and growth is the important thing, and risk management approaches and low level management support can be deployed ?

    Thoughts ?

    • Peter,
      Great comments. Companies are taking so much time to find the 100%, presumably so the person can “hit the ground running”, which I can understand. However, in the time it takes to find the perfect candidate, you often could have hired someone at 80% and had them “up to speed” in the same amount of time. (This is evidenced by the same positions posted for 6 months – or re-posted.) The issue becomes whether they spend the time waiting for the “100%” or take the “80%”, but that means they now need someone to spend time with that “80%er” to help them get up to speed.

      I believe the beauty of hiring the right “80%” person is that they are going to (hopefully) be more “grateful” for the opportunity, will have immediate “challenges” and will work hard to get to that 100%, then “120%”. In the meantime, this person will have a “fresh” perspective that (hopefully) brings some new ideas. In my experience, in a lot of instances, the “100%” person that has all the “right” skills is in the “this is just how we do it” mindset, thinks they “know it all” or is complacent. I want people who ask “Why?”

      I am in marketing and marketing strategies/tactics are constantly changing. For my last hire, I looked for someone who had the proven drive and propensity to learn new things – as well as having the “truly” important experience that I needed. I didn’t have “time” to spend training, but I did it anyway – and I am glad I did.

      At least in the “old world”, you had to think hard about applying because you had to type a cover letter and a resume, put it in an envelope, find a stamp and mail it. The effort made you think long and hard about applying for a position – and if you didn’t have all the skills – you at least had the advantage of less applications, and the ability of others to not make the effort!

      Unfortunately, the current application process is such that it is so easy to apply – and the number of applications is so large – that it seems that most recruiters have been “forced” to use software applications to weed out not only people with a serious lack of experience, but also potentially great “80%” candidates. But with less people to do the work than in the past, do they really have the time to spend to find that “80%” person – especially since it is more difficult to do, and it is, as you say, a risk? I guess not – which is unfortunate for me as a job seeker.

      • Peter Jones (@innov8tor3)

        I do hope you are thinking of topping up your earnings while you job hunt, Pam.

        Good marketing skills are hard to find, I could really use them myself, so you have skills that the small business community needs.

        Of course, it’s much harder work, and piecemeal, but better than waiting for employers to get better at recruitment.

        Happy to talk more, you can check me out, connect and talk on my Twitter handle mentiined above.

        Peter.

  3. Don’t forget ‘golf buddies’! Cultivating friendships seems crass, but it is one way that people maneuver in the professional working world.

  4. Interesting article. Just wondering if anyone else has any thoughts about “multi-tasking”? Is this always a good thing? Or does “multi-tasking” imply that you are really not giving proper focus to any single task. I think this works for simple tasks, but would it be good for me to be answering email and developing my marketing plan for the upcoming year at the same time? Probably not. I prefer to think of myself as a “rapid task switcher” in that I can switch easily from task to task, giving each task its’ proper focus.

  5. “We’re already seeing this in corporate America with the emergence of women and multi-ethnicity.”

    Was this article written in the 1970s?

    “4. Multi-Tasker — This is pretty simple. The workplace requires people to do more tasks, jobs and take on more responsibility than ever before.”

    Multi-tasking means being able to (successfully) do multiple things simultaneously. Not one after the other, *at the same time*. A better (though still jargony) term for this quality would be something like “multi-capable.”

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