On top of technical, role-specific skills, important employee strengths that employers should look for in candidates — or train in their staff — should include a set of transferable skills. These skills help employees to take on diverse challenges head-on in a constantly changing business environment.
Such transferable skills include the likes of leadership, interpersonal skills and critical thinking — and are equally important to have as technical skills, says Ian Koh, Senior Consultant at global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.
“Transferable skills are a soft skill set that can take you from company A to company B,” he says. “[These skills] are important because today’s business landscape moves at such a fast pace. For businesses, it’s important that once an individual gets employed, you want the candidate to get up to speed as soon as possible.”
Here are some of the key transferable employee skills that employers should look out for when hiring.
1. People Skills
Interpersonal skills such as communication and stakeholder management are crucial for employees to work amicably with their teammates, clients and other stakeholders.
For employers to get a better sense of a candidate’s interpersonal skills and communication or leadership style, Mr Koh advises taking a conversational approach to interviews to get some insight into past experience. These skills are especially important for “softer” functions that require more of a human touch, like sales or human resources, he says.
2. Critical Thinking and Problem-solving
Research has shown that one of the most important transferable skills employers look out for is the ability to solve problems, also known as critical thinking. Being able to think, judge, present solutions and make good decisions can add value to almost any role or situation, making this skill invaluable.
“Critical thinking will help you at any level,” affirms Mr Koh. “The job market and economy are moving so fast — if you don’t adapt and grow, you could be obsolete in months, in some cases, so it’s important to think on your feet and be able to come up with your own solutions, regardless of the [management] level you’re at.”
3. International and Multicultural Exposure
As economies grow increasingly global, Mr Koh identifies global exposure as a trait that has become more popular. This may include overseas work experience, the ability to speak multiple foreign languages and having nuanced cross-cultural understanding and sensitivity.
The focus on having global exposure is often due to Singapore being a hub for businesses operating in the region, he explains.
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4. Networking Skills
Networking skills are valuable to have and should be one of the key strengths of a manager. Building the right connections, regardless of your function, is a valuable asset for career and business development, says Mr Koh.
In particular, he observes, “senior management requires this network because often, they bounce ideas off each other.” Leaders may also be able to leverage their connections to foster valuable business partnerships and collaborations.
5. Adaptability to Change
Finally, employees must be ready to help companies take on the diverse business challenges that they face today.
Whether it’s due to technological innovation or threat from competition, Mr Koh concludes, “At the end of the day, you’ve got to be hungry, willing to try new things and be adaptable and willing to learn. Job markets and business landscapes are changing fast, so constantly learning and pushing yourself — these are skills that will make [a candidate] valuable to employers.”