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Skills and Values Employers Want

When you do a search for “What Employers Want” you do not see high test scores anywhere on any job descriptions. We are training our kids for the types of jobs that are not there anymore. If you look at the world now, everything is changing: business, government, banking, and education. We are in a transitional period with many of us kicking and screaming afraid to go where we have to go. The world is going to change if we like it or not.

I still hear “if it was good for me, it’s good for my kid.”

Kids Coming HomeThis is unbelievable! That kid is going to be living on that parent’s couch when they are in their 30’s because there will not be any jobs for them. Wait a minute! That’s happening now. Read this article “Is there a doctor in the house?

So what are the skills employers are looking for? Skills most sought after by employers according to Randall Hansen, Ph.D and Katherine Hansen, Ph.D are:

  • Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written)
  • Analytical/Research Skills
  • Computer/Technical Literacy
  • Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities
  • Interpersonal Abilities
  • Leadership/Management Skills
  • Multicultural Sensitivity/Awareness
  • Planning/Organizing
  • Problem-Solving/Reasoning/Creativity
  • Teamwork


No test scores here!

Kelly Services listed the same skills. Everywhere I looked the same skills.

Check out the 12 Hot buttons from

    1. Results – they are less concerned with your past experience and responsibilities. What did you accomplish?
    2. Figures and numbers - did you increase revenue at your last job? did you underpromise and overdeliver even if you worked at a non-profit or volunteered?
    3. Awards and accolades – share if you have received any awards or been recognized for excellence.
    4. Blog or website – this shows you have good communication skills, but make sure your website looks professional.
    5. Staying Power – be careful of changing jobs that don’t last two years or less.
    6. Up-to-date skills and education – be on top of all the latest technology and innovations in your field.
    7. Ideas and initiative – Be ready to hit the ground running and solve problems without waiting for someone to tell you what to do.


  • Attitude – be enthusiastic, flexible, and postitive.
  • Leadership skills – be willing to take on more responsibility to improve a product or process.
  • Growth potential – go beyond the job description.
  • Creativity – ability to think outside the box and solve problems.
  • Hobbies – be passionate about something outside of work.


No test scores here!

I’m still looking. If universities base their admissions on high test scores, then maybe we need to rethink higher ed. Uh oh! I’m touching on something here that could get very messy.

How do you teach creativity and passion?

Found an article on Ambition: The Fire in the Belly Employers Want by Jane Genova.

“Those hiring and promoting learned from the downturn and intense economic volatility that’s it’s no longer enough to do ‘just a job,’” says Michael Francoeur, Dale Carnegie Training instructor and executive coach. “Employers now know that what kept their business growing or even saved it were the employees who saw beyond their job description. They pushed to do whatever was needed at the time. Often their most important contribution is persistence. The ambitious stay with a project, no matter how bad things seem. That’s usually because they have the confidence to believe in themselves. The less ambitious would have become discouraged.”

I see that ambition similar to finding someone’s passion. When you are passionate about something, you fight for it. There are no punching time clocks. I’ve watched game designers work way into the night so excited about this or that. Maybe there is that passion about finding a cure for a terrible disease or a new type of transportation that is economical and safe for the environment. Maybe we need this type of passion to come up with strategies to fix our economy or climate change.

So I decided to look for top personal values employers look for in employees:

  • Strong work ethics
  • Dependability and responsibility
  • Possessing a positive attitude
  • Adaptability
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Self-motivated
  • Motivated to grow and learn
  • Strong self-confidence
  • Professionalism
  • Loyalty

No test scores again!

I’m putting this out there to you — teachers, parents, professors, administrators, students. Maybe our whole system needs shaking up. Are we teaching these skills and values?

Students will need to graduate with these skills:

  • The ability to act independently and solve problems on their own.
  • Strong interpersonal written, oral, and social skills to collaborate with colleagues.
  • Strong global literacy to understand people around the world.
  • The ability to acquire the information they need to do the job.
  • The ability to learn new skills as corporations change strategies to stay competitive.

The CEO of UPS wrote: “ We look for employees who can learn how to learn.”

So what does school like if we teach these skills and values and teach our students to learn how to learn?


Brand Yourself

What is your Unique Selling Position (USP)? How do you stand out in a crowd or in social media so you are remarkable and different enough to get noticed by an employer or client?

You can do this by branding yourself. The job market is tough and sending thousands of resumés may not be the right way to get that “job” you want. I am older than most job-seekers but I learned some things about using the tools available to get known. I read this article from AARP and thought I’d share and adapt the tips for you.

  1. Find your passion. It’s all about what you believe in and thinking and looking positive about it. Believe in yourself and what you are doing. If you do, others will too. “Accepting yourself is the most important ingredient in the self-confidence formula.”
  2. Give an elevator speech.Come up with a short 60 second pitch that comes across who you are, what you do best, and why others should believe in you. Make it authentic, strong, and personal and make it stand out from your competition.
  3. Validate your passion.You believe in what you are doing. You are positive about it. Find others that do to. Encourage your believers to share your passion and get the buzz out all over the place. Find your “Google Quotient” using the Online ID Calculator ( to see how many relevant hits your name generates in a web search. Use social media like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter to build your PLN (Personal Learning Network).
  4. Promote your passion. Design business cards that promote you and your brand and give them out to everyone after your elevator speech. Link to your website that promotes you also. Have all of your contact information so people can find you.
  5. Come up with your look. Come up with your look and dress the part. You may have a signature accessory, color, or shoes. Just look as professional as you can with crazy boots or wild glasses.


The Educated Unemployable

Thomas Friedman’s article China, Twitter and 20-year-olds vs the Pyramids wrote:

“Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia today are overflowing with the most frustrated cohort in the world — “the educated unemployables.” They have college degrees on paper but really don’t have the skills to make them globally competitive. I was just in Singapore. Its government is obsessed with things as small as how to better teach fractions to third graders.”

This issue is not the middle East’s problem alone. The world is changing and education is not looking at the bigger picture. We are in a global crises everywhere. Young people 15-29 are realizing that their education or lack of it is impacting their ability to get the type of jobs they need to live. They are finding they have a voice: on the Internet. People making sure they are heard: on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Friedman writes:

“The Arab world has 100 million young people today between the ages of 15 and 29, many of them males who do not have the education to get a good job, buy an apartment and get married. That is trouble. Add in rising food prices, and the diffusion of Twitter, Facebook and texting, which finally gives them a voice to talk back to their leaders and directly to each other, and you have a very powerful change engine.”

What if oil prices rise? They will. It’s inevitable. Then food prices. Yes, they will rise too especially if more countries have government turnovers and the people of the country revolt. It is now happening in Algeria. What about developed countries like the United States, the UK, Australia, and Europe. If the unemployment rate does not go down in the US to 8%, the US is going to make some changes maybe not to where we need to go. Also are the numbers correct? What about the 99ers who have been unemployed for over 13 months?

We have educated people who have been looking for work for months. Work has changed. Businesses are running slimmer and cutting costs because of the uncertain economy and less cash flow. So things have to change all over. If people 15-29 are educated, use social media, then maybe we need to teach them how to use social media to create businesses and entrepreneurial skills. For those in under-developed countries, this will be a very big challenge. How to create enough jobs or businesses for 100 million people? Oh my!!

There just are not enough jobs for everyone. When I look at organizations like Kiva that provide small loans for people around the world who want to start their own businesses, I see hope. Everyone of us has a dream somewhere down deep. We were born as unique individuals who have interests and passions. If we continue to teach the same way we have for hundreds of years, we will continue to get the same products. People looking for work that is not there.

It is time to review all this emphasis on testing and standards and question “are we preparing our children for their future?” Our competition is not the school next door. It is China and India. Our children are part of the global marketplace. As long as they believe school as we know it today may prepare them for their future, they are caught in a system that could lead them down a road of failure. Some jobs are definitely needed: doctors, lawyers, engineers. But even if you become a teacher, it does not mean you will be assured there will be a job for you where you want to work.

How about teaching how to do projects, create projects, and market your projects? People who have critical thinking skills and are creative how they find solutions will get projects. Jobs where you received benefits and a pension may not be the same anymore. Just having a job now does not give anyone security anymore. We are in a revolution. Education is the key but what it looks like today is not what we need for the world’s economy. It is not all about jobs anymore. It is about how we are preparing people for their own survival and how it benefits society or the people in your area. If we start children very young asking questions and being curious about the world, they will come up with solutions.

Why not create a project about the climate, the creeks in your area, housing market, or another major issue that impacts your community? Except ask the students to create the project, ask the questions, and own the process. Any project can match standards. Students own the learning when it is relevant and real to them.


Think as an Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur takes a different mindset. Most of us have been taught to take orders, follow the rules, think in the box… When someone breaks out of the box and comes up with what they think is a crazy idea, their colleagues just shake their heads and wait for their friend to come to their senses.  That is until the economy changed everything and the consequences for following rules doesn’t mean you keep your job anymore. There is no security and the rules have all changed.

With good jobs going away, middle class downsizes. Jobs that pay well are going away and are not being replaced by similar jobs. The middle class is shrinking. Corporations are cutting back on their work force and continue to send jobs oversees. Some of the jobs that are being cut are accounting, good-paying union jobs, and technology jobs. When you are out of work and there are no jobs, no unemployment benefits, you take any job — even a low-paying job. With little money, people are barely making it by, losing their homes, and not spending money. This is the trickle down effect people were talking about.

What happens to our communities? to the families? Houses go into foreclosure, people don’t spend money so stores go under, people move and take their children out of school. Without enough students, schools close or teachers are laid off. This is that trickle down effect but not the way we were thinking it would go.

You can feel sorry for yourself or you can take control of your life. What if you could make another $500+ a month? Could that help you? I just read “Put more Cash in Your Pocket” by Loral Langemeir who I met at the Make Mine a Millionaire $ Business Conference.

Loral writes about taking the skills you already have and make a business venture using those skills. This is not the idea of starting a new business around something you have no experience. Did you ever sell lemonade in front your house? It’s the same idea. Just make some extra money to pay off some bills or save for something you really want. Loral provides a long list of possible ventures. Here’s a few off that list and a few I added:

  • Tutoring
  • Web site design
  • Scrapbooking
  • Dog Walking
  • Calligraphy
  • Quilting
  • Gardening
  • Music Lessons
  • Organizing Closets
  • Personal Shopper
  • Setting up Home Theaters

What do you like to do? What are your skills? Do you have any hobbies you wouldn’t mind doing more and making money off of them?

Change how you think and think like an entrepreneur. You can make extra money  while you have a job. If you don’t have a job and are on unemployment, try your hand at doing something you love and see what it feels like to make money off of it.  Interested in learning more? Buy Loral’s book and take a chance.