4 Skills That Every Job Hunter Needs, Especially Now

job skills marketabilityBy Dawn Papandrea

Even as the job market appears to be turning around, it's still important to stand out from other job seekers, as you compete for those new openings. Here are some surprising skills that career experts say will help you get noticed.

1. Social Media Savvy

You knew there had to be a good reason for spending so much time on Facebook and Twitter. "A new college graduate can say she has strong writing skills, but is she able to demonstrate them via authoring a purely professional blog and/or by commenting intelligently on other industry-related posts?" That, says Miriam Salpeter, coach and owner of Keppie Careers and author of "Social Networking for Career Success," is a question that modern employers may be asking themselves.

And social media is the perfect avenue for demonstrating your expertise or eagerness to learn about your industry. "By sharing suggested readings and thoughts via tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+, it's very powerful," she says. Touting your creativity is one thing, but having an appropriately creative online presence proves it.

Beyond marketing yourself online, it's smart to take social media to the professional level as well, says Anthony Rotolo, a professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, where he specializes in social media. "The class I teach, Social Media in the Enterprise, focuses directly on social media for organizations. You're going to be turned to by your employers as someone who is most capable of tackling a social media job. They'll say, 'You're young, you must know Facebook or Twitter,' " he says. And that's your perfect opportunity to step up and shine!

2. Professionalism And People Skills

Although professionalism and being a people person sound like vague concepts -- sort of like Simon Cowell's "X Factor" -- recruiters and hiring managers can spot it as soon as you walk in the room. There are so many different ways to exhibit professionalism, beginning with your resume and cover letter, says Ryan Stalgaitis, career counselor and internship coordinator of Becton College of Arts of Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University. "The cover letter is the chance to match up your soft skills to the exact specifications of what the employer is looking for in their job description," he says.

Professionalism also comes across in how you dress, whether you seem comfortable and confident when speaking to others (do you look people in the eye?), as well as good manners and etiquette, he says. These skills come with practice.

The same goes for being a "people person" or a conversationalist, skills that are definitely in your best interest to develop, says Vicki Salemi, author of 'Big Career in the Big City." "You need to be able to show that you can interact well with people, and within a group," says the former recruiter. That starts with being up on industry news and even water-cooler buzz. "Your resume is going to highlight your skill set and past experience, but it won't say if you're going to seminars or reading trade magazines," she says. Before going to any outing or event, Salemi advises that you take a few minutes to read some headlines so that you're up on the things people are likely to talk about.

In other words, do your homework when meeting with potential employers -- whether in an interview, or just in a social or networking type setting. "If you're more of an introvert, get out there and practice talking to people. Go to a mixer or a church event," she says.

3. Open To Change

If there's one trend that's true for all professions, it's that you have to be adaptable and open to learning new ways of doing things if you expect to stay competitive. In other words, make it a habit to think beyond your job title and continually learn new things. "There are no disadvantages to taking a class. You're going to learn something new, and if you're an active and engaged student, you can network with the instructor and other classmates," says Salemi.

And you don't necessarily have to go back to school for an advanced degree to stay sharp. Seek out free webinars, short-term programs, online courses, or even check out some tutorials on YouTube, says Salemi.

Her top picks for things you should learn on your free time, especially if you plan to work in a corporate setting, include: how to use technology in a modern meeting, how to upload a video, what SEO is all about, and how to use Skype and other communication-related tech skills.

Take Initiative

Often very basic knowledge isn't taught in college because programs are so focused on high-level skills, says Salemi. So when you're given the opportunity to start a new job -- even if it's temp work -- take the initiative to figure out how things work so that you can do your job in the most efficient way possible. "Become friendly with the mailroom people. Figure out the office equipment. Get an organizational chart to learn who's who and how they relate to each other. And take cues about corporate culture," she says. "It's important for people to see that you're street smart and aren't afraid to ask questions."

This go-getter attitude can begin as early as the interview process, adds Stalgaitis, to which you should bring a list of intelligent questions to show your enthusiasm about the organization. "You don't typically see in the job description, 'We want someone to step up to the plate,' but employers do want that," he says.

Although these intangible type skills don't come with certifications or credentials, think of them as career secret weapons. "You want to make sure you're really making yourself the best candidate you can be," says Stalgaitis. "These skills are important across the board, in any position."

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Recently in downtown Portland OR, a young woman boasted of her 100+ "tatts" ..a young job seeker asked her "Did those cause problems getting a job ?"
Her reply "Never needed one".
Sign of the times ?

July 10 2013 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why is it that i never meet anyone with these qualities when i visit them at their workplace?

January 09 2013 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The thing that bothers me about this list is the insistence that a job-hunter be an extrovert. I never have been one and doubt I will be any day soon. I just don't interact with others well. I prefer a behind-the-scenes position that does not require socializing. So does that mean I'm just out of luck? Lovely >_>

July 15 2012 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jenn's comment

What do you do?

May 28 2013 at 8:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anyone else notice the inconsistent Number 4...it doesn't have the number in front of it which at first lead me to believe that it was an extention of number 3

March 14 2012 at 3:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

SKILL 1 - go to all places that hire illegal aliens and compete with them.

March 14 2012 at 1:40 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to evandervenice's comment

What makes you think that the illegals dont have a degree whether from back home or U.S(that they pay with their own money)?How do you know that on the way to work while riding the subway or whenever they can,they keep up with the latest news/headlines/updates whether on the internet or through the published media?They might not have a green card ,but a lot of them are willing to learn and adapt if people like you give them a break already.

February 02 2013 at 5:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've always wanted to be a Radio Announcer ( not television). Upon concluding an interview for a job in Insurance, of all things, the interviewer asked me the final question: "If you could have any job you wanted, ever, without regard to pay or benefits, what would that job be?"
I foolishly answered: " You know I've always wanted to work in Radio as an Announcer."
That was the end of that.. I never heard from them again. My mistake for being so naive.

March 14 2012 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Always visit the Payroll Department upon taking a new job, making sure that they have all the deductions correctly entered into their system..
I always remember Michael J. Fox in his role in "The Secret of My Success".

March 14 2012 at 12:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Asking too many in-depth questions may be chancy also, if it makes the interviewer feel threatened. Some people don't want to hire someone who is smarter than they feel they are. Not long ago, I went to exchange a product at the local Food Lion and encountered apparently the head cashier who responded in the most rude and unprofessional way. I was stunned and can't imagine how this person got hired. Try to feel the attitude of the person you interview with and work to that.

March 13 2012 at 11:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

One thing that is really, really bad that does not conform to the "corporate look" and might be catagorized under "professionalism" is a tatooed body. If you walk into an interview with "ink" on your body you are sending the wrong message to those that hire. You may not want it to be true, and they will never tell you it didn't help you get the job, but in reality it hurt your chances greatly.

March 13 2012 at 9:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to joyce's comment

Same thing with pink and/or green hair dyed... piercings, or a hair color that doesn't compliment your face/complexion, etc.

August 05 2012 at 10:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Paula's comment

You forgot grey and having wrinkles, or in other words being old(er).

April 06 2013 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

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