The Most Important Career Skills You Didn’t Study in College
A recent study exposed a huge gap in the expectations of employers and entry-level job candidates when it comes to the characteristics they value in the workplace. An overwhelming 93 percent of surveyed employers weigh so-called soft skills like problem solving more heavily than academic credentials, while a mere 16 percent of entry-level candidates considered soft skills important. Looking back on the executive positions I’ve filled over the years, I’ve noticed the critical role these professional attributes play in the careers of managers, as well.
This is a classic example of an extremely valuable skill set that’s rarely reflected in resume bullet points or job titles. Yet the higher up the job ladder you climb, the more an employer expects you to make competent decisions that affect the company. Leading real estate firms don’t just look for executives who can hire employees and ensure things get done on time. They need people with the capacity to reason their way through unexpected problems and opportunities. This makes it even more crucial to point out specific decisions you’ve made and problems you’ve solved in past jobs when courting potential employers.
A great idea is useless if people can’t quite wrap their heads around what you’re talking about. Companies don’t expect their leaders to be English scholars with half-finished novels in their desk drawers. But they do need people who can get their ideas across in a way that doesn’t seed confusion and misunderstandings. Practices that demonstrate this skill set can be as simple as giving a second read to emails, memos and presentations to be sure your intentions are clear and the text is free of basic errors. Respect language and seek continuous improvement in how you use it. This might seem rudimentary, but just consider how many times you’ve seen “excellent communication skills” required in a job description. Keep in mind that effective communication now goes beyond traditional inter-office messages. The ability to convey ideas succinctly through texting and social media has also become invaluable. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like may have changed the format of our communication in the last five years, but keep in mind that their effective use requires more writing than ever. Regardless of the medium, persuasive written communication will set you apart.
It’s not enough, though, to be a smooth talker. I don’t know how many construction-related positions I’ve filled where employers emphasized the ability to communicate well, not just with executives, but also with site foremen, subcontractors, tradesmen and municipal officials. Hiring managers know first hand that you can’t manage a large team unless you feel at ease with its members at all levels. That requires not just confidence, but a sense of humility as well.
For more than 20 years, Christopher Frederick has helped match the skills of high-value executives with leading companies in real estate. Visit our website at www.chrisfred.com where you can find exclusive job listings for real estate professionals and read more about our one-of-a-kind approach to executive recruitment.