Guidance for Job Seekers
Although there’s a technical skills shortage in the construction and engineering industry, to progress your career and get the pick of the best jobs in the market you still need to make an effort! No sitting back waiting for the phone to ring with your dream job offer, if you want a new technical role you need to improve your employability skills too.
Faced with a choice of candidates with equally good technical skills, qualifications and experience, it will be the candidates with desirable soft skills that rise to the top of employers’ shortlists. Even before you enter the recruitment process, ‘employability skills’ can help you get noticed and find out about new opportunities. For example, good communication skills are very useful when you’re in networking situations and this can help raise your profile within your industry.
If you’re thinking about looking for a new job, as well as updating your CV it’s also a good opportunity to update your employability skills and use them to differentiate yourself from other candidates in the market. Here’s what employers are looking for:
5 Top Employability Skills For Technical Candidates
All employers want candidates to be articulate, reasoned and active listeners. Why? Because they want to recruit employees who are able to communicate clearly, analyse and interpret information correctly, and understand what the needs are of their clients, colleagues and other business associates.
If you feel that you’re not always good at explaining a process, giving instructions or articulating what you need, you could benefit from a communication course or at least more practice. If there are opportunities to deliver presentations at your current work take them and request feedback; this will help you learn to how to communicate more effectively and these skills will be become self-evident at interviews and in other professional situations.
While you may work as part of a team that’s not the same as having good teamwork skills! Many people find it difficult to be a team player, but it is highly desirable from an employer’s perspective. After all they don’t want a new recruit to disrupt their current teams adversely, instead they want someone who can fit in or bring a positive new dynamic to the team.
You can develop your own teamwork skills by increasing your exposure to this style of work. If there are opportunities to be part of group projects at your current company, put yourself forward. Join steering groups, committees and boards (you can volunteer with a local organisation or charity) to hone your teamwork skills. Also embrace any team building activities that are offered through professional development programmes, these will help you get more out of working in a team and you may even find you enjoy it!
A positive outlook and a ‘can do’ attitude is very attractive to employers. In fact, generally we are all drawn to positive people because they make us feel positive and energised too. It’s therefore surprising that often candidates can be quite negative in an interview situation, focusing on their limitations or their dissatisfaction with their current job.
A candidate that has a positive attitude instils confidence in the interviewer, so learn to project a can do, optimistic persona. If you know that you’re prone to being a ‘glass half empty’ type of person, make a conscious effort to have a more positive outlook especially when you’re talking to a prospective employer.
- Commercial awareness
Employers really want people in their companies who understand how their role and activities impacts the success of the business overall. They want people who understand the business objectives and will therefore align what they do with these goals.
You can demonstrate commercial awareness on your CV by showing how you have contributed to the successful delivery of projects, including the results and any efficiencies and cost savings that you have helped to obtain. In an interview situation commercial awareness can be demonstrated by showing that you’ve researched the company, it’s position in the market and how your potential appointment will help the business succeed.
Employers want to recruit people they can trust. Initially they want reassurance that they can trust what you say on your CV and an interview situation – that you have the skills, qualifications and experience they need and that they can trust you to deliver these if you’re hired. They also want people they can trust to act in the company’s best interests, fit in with the company culture and embrace the opportunity their role presents.
Demonstrating that you’re a trustworthy individual may seem difficult, but there are ways to highlight that you are honest and have integrity. Firstly, you must ensure that your CV or application form is honest. Don’t be tempted to manipulate the truth because if you are found out, however insignificant the ‘white lie’ is, any relationship will be founded on mistrust. Instead you can demonstrate how trusted you are in your current position; such as handling sensitive situations, safeguarding, compliance, regulatory issues or any other situation where you can highlight honesty and integrity.
You may not think that the skills outlined above are relevant to whether you can do your job as an engineer, project manager or technician, but they are. These are all skills that employers are looking for over and above the technical skills they need.