4 core skills you should look for in your next employee
With one in two people considering a career change in the future and job applications set to peak in the first three months of 2018, now is the time to look for candidates with core skills and attributes, rather than just those who possess specific skills and experience. 

Traditionally, hirers have looked to employ candidates based on an individual’s experience and their learnt skills, but there are numerous benefits in hiring candidates based on their core skills and attributes.

There has never been a better time to consider the skills you should be looking for in your next candidate. Recent SEEK research has found that just over one in two people are considering a career change in the future, and one in three New Zealand candidates think this will happen within the next 12 months or sooner.

Knowing what core skills you should be looking for and then carefully considering a candidate’s skills and attributes can help determine whether they are the right person for your business.

The benefits of hiring based on key skills and attributes

A candidate's drive to succeed in a particular role within a specific environment is determined by their key skills, motivations, attributes, values and preferences.

“Recruitment professionals will be able to assess whether there is alignment in goals, values, drivers and interests necessary in the role and within the organisation,” says Jeromine Alpe, an HR director, founder and CEO of Bureau Consulting Group.

“Regardless of (learnt) skills and experience, if the culture fit is not a match, there is an increased risk of failure in the first six months.”

A candidate’s level of fit within a particular work culture is not determined by their previous experience, but on less tangible qualities such as their transferable skills and personal attributes.

SEEK research has revealed that according to New Zealand hirers surveyed, on average, transferable skills should have an importance weighting of 62% and formal qualifications, 38%. Of those involved in the hiring process, two in five (43%) have hired someone because they demonstrated more passion for the role than actual skills.

The core skills recruiters should be looking for

Hirers should be looking for candidates who have transferable skills. Transferable skills are a key set of skills and abilities that can be useful, regardless of the organisation or role.

There are four core skills that hirers should be focusing on:

  • Organisational skills such as time management or research skills
  • Communication skills such as listening and writing
  • Interpersonal skills like empathy and flexibility
  • Analytical skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.

“The best measure of success is to look for demonstrated skills working in diverse cultures, someone’s ability to work autonomously and as a team member, individuals who can demonstrate problem solving and difficult conversations, as well as being a good listener,” says Alpe.

Alpe says there are clues as to whether candidates possess these attributes. “Someone who arrives on time and is well prepared for the interview demonstrates attention to detail and a genuine interest in the role,” she says. “Someone who is inquisitive will listen and ask relevant questions.”

The rise in desire for technical skills

As workplaces become increasingly automated and tech-driven, there is an increasing need for candidates to include technical skills as part of their core attributes.

“In this digital age, everything we do revolves around some form of electronic device,” says Alpe. “Technical skills and expertise in coding and analysis are becoming the norm when recruiting, particularly for entry-level roles.”

According to Alpe, the ability to harness technical skills from in-house employees rather than needing to outsource to a third party can mean the difference between success and failure.

“In a competitive market, businesses have to be as agile as possible,” she says.

“This means becoming industry leaders and responding to changing market conditions and new business opportunities.”

Hiring purely based on a candidate’s previous experience and skills can be limiting. By looking at candidates’ transferable skills and attributes, recruiters can hire for aptitude and potential rather than focusing on what the individual has already achieved.