Career success

The Top Non-Job Skills Recruiters /Employers Love

If you have just graduated out of college, or are already working, there are some skills, unrelated to the skills related to your job, which tell the recruiters / employers that you not only know all about the job, you also know stuff about the broader context of the job- people, the industry, attitude...


If you can show examples of each of these essential qualities, apart from your job skills, you are gold.


The skills


1. Business acumen (or commercial awareness): Do you know what makes your company tick? Where does it make its money? How is it doing compared to the competition? What's happening to the industry? What are the biggest challenges to the company as well as industry that your bosses are most concerned about> These are some of the questions a professional is interested in, and knowing all this also gives you an edge during the job interviews.


2. Communication skills: Communication skills cover a broad are between verbal communications (speaking, meetings etc.) to non-verbal (listening, writing, body language etc.) Basically, to have good communication skills is to be able to get the properly customized message across in a clear, concise and focused manner. This also means under stand others clearly- listening closely, observing body language cues etc.


3. Teamworking skills: As a good teamworker, you are productive in a team, you work well with others, without stepping on toes, you bring value to the team's goal. This also means you forming and managing a team as a leader, doing everything to see it meets it goals on time, under budget.


4. Negotiation and persuasion skills: Where you do the 'give and take', or convince others to your side by explaining the value of doing so.


5. Problem solving skills: Looking at and solving problems, using tried and tested logical methods or if needed, going 'outside the box', looking at the problems from others' perspectives and coming up with new solutions.


6. Leadership skill: Managers set objectives and help their people do their jobs fully. Leaders explain to the managers and to others what is to be done and why, and then bring all the resources along to make sure the target is achieved. Leadership is more about showing 'the way' and then showing 'how the way is to be traveled' - guiding and doing things alongside all the way.


7. Organizational skills: Prioritizing tasks, working efficiently, being very productive, and getting the most out of your time. You what's important at any given moment of time. You know to focus on tasks and meet the deadlines.


8. Ability to perseverance and motivate yourself: You are not bogged down by setbacks. You have what they call grit. If you are sure why you are doing what you are doing, when you know your goals and reasons for them, few things can stop you. It is very hard for you to break- pause, yes, break, never.


9. Ability to work under pressure: You have control over your emotions. You can look at things from an objective angle and thus are rarely perturbed by distrubances. This helps you keep calm in a crisis, you probably know what is to be done, and even if you don't, you don't let others on it, unless absolutely necessary.


10. Showing confidence without being arrogant: You trust your skills and abilities> You radiate positivity among the people you work with. To repeat, you are gold.


How to develop these skills

You can read all you want about each of these skills, but they are best ingrained with action- putting what you learned in action.


It starts in college: Extra-curricular activities, projects, volunteer, internships, to develop your general skills.


Having a business mindset

What does 'having a business mindset' mean?

It means being aware of the value of our skills, of the things we are good at, of who need our skills most, how much are they willing to pay for it to use for get the idea.


When you set out to work, even when you are working for others, you are in business, where your skills and your time are what you are selling.


It is liberating to be thinking like this, to know you could be working for others, working for yourself and all the time your skills and your time are being paid for. So, take each step carefully.


The purpose of a business is find a customer. This means you must focus on marketing yourself better: Personal branding, Resumes, Linkedin Profiles, Job boards, Freelancer boards, Cold calling, Cold emailing...


This also means you should also position yourself better: Are you generalist (know a little bit of everything) or a specialist or both? Do you need to brush up on skills which may pay well? Are you selling outdated skills that few want?


Commercial Awareness

Your commercial awareness is your interest in a business, the industry it is in and an understanding of the wider environment in which a business operates: its customers, competitors and suppliers.


You are showing a commercial awareness when you show your understanding of how a company makes money, how the company's industry makes money, the things that sell most, the main players and where the company stands. what the current industry scenario is like, among other things.


For example, journalists must know how online journalism and social news sharing is changing the nature of news publishing and reading.


Types of interview questions that test your commercial awareness:

What do you know about our organization?

Why do you wish to enter the .... industry?

What are our main products/services? (or, What is the company's unique selling point?)

What are the problems facing our industry at this time?

What changes have there been in our industry recently?

Who are our competitors? What are the differences between them and us?

Who are our clients?

What do you think the job you would be doing entails?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

What salary do you expect?

How do you keep up to date with what is going on in business?

What story in the business press has interested you most recently?

What would you do differently if you were in charge, given the current industry situation?


They might even ask you the share prices of the leading companies in your chosen industry, if they are listed.


How to get commercial awareness: Research, research, research.

Just use Google (example of a search “(industry name/company name) performance/competitors/news/etc.) for answers to the above questions. Read the business papers.


You can also start by relating your own experience to business- What are the good and bad points about your employer? Who is its target market? Who are its main competitors? How would you improve the company's image or profitability?


Note: Merely looking at the company website won’t do. You should try to current employees and alumni (search using Google, Twitter, or Facebook) at the organization. You should also try to understand the core values and culture.



Consider Numeracy a fancy term for 'Number skills'. A person with good numeracy means that person is good with numbers. In the working world, having good number skills (okay, numeracy) means you are good at calculating profit and loss, percentages and averages, understanding basic statistics...Just Google ‘Business Math guide’.


Google these basic numeracy skills: Making calculations, Handling numbers confidently, Metric measurement, Fractional parts, Percentages, Order of Operations , Decimals and fractions, Ratios, Area and volume, Sequence and Patterns, Highest and Lowest Value, Graphs and charts, Calculators, etc.


Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life.  Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.