Get the skills employers want most

September 22, 2014
Carter Dyson

Carter Dyson

Every job requires a certain mix of skills and knowledge. A welder must read blueprints, retailers must have merchandising knowledge, software developers typically need to know C++ and so on.

Yet, the skills that many employers value the most apply to nearly every position in every field. These skills, commonly referred to as soft skills, can give you an incredible edge whether you’re looking for your next career opportunity or already on the job.

In today’s workforce, these skills are critical to success. Business leaders know competitiveness hinges on employees who have what it takes to get the job done well, and they expect employees to demonstrate soft skills from the start.

Here’s a look at what area employers tell the staff at Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail are the most important soft skills.

Communication: Employees who can professionally articulate themselves, both verbally and in writing, are critical to any organization. You should be clear and concise and able to tailor your message depending on the audience. A good communicator also is a good listener and maintains professional body language.

Teamwork: Companies do better when employees work well together and look out for each other. Being a team player means being open to others’ ideas, being cooperative and understanding how your work impacts the larger picture.

Problem solving: The ability to analyze a problem from multiple angles, weigh possible solutions and arrive at a final answer is a very marketable skill. Employers want critical thinkers, knowing they will make better decisions.

Organization: This doesn’t just mean your office or work area is tidy. If you’re organized, you’re able to prioritize projects, work productively and you are prepared.

Leadership: Whether or not you’re in a management role, showing leadership skills, such as your ability to motivate your colleagues, is highly valued.

Negotiation: This isn’t haggling for a good deal. Businesses value good negotiators who can express their needs as well as understand the needs of others and find solutions that everyone feels good about.

Positive outlook: A winning outlook includes a few traits. First, you’re motivated in your professional life. You’re ready to tackle the job and look forward to new challenges. And when things aren’t going so well, you don’t get stressed or give up. Instead, you demonstrate perseverance, agility and your ability to operate under pressure. All the while, you show confidence – confidence in yourself, your team and your company.

With so much of our economy rooted in the service industry and so many businesses organized in work teams, relationships and the soft skills that nurture them are precious assets. Employers know that, and no matter your job skills, your talents might never be realized if you can’t, for example, get along with your work team.

Yet, if you lack soft skills, you’ll be glad to know these habits and attitudes are not difficult to adopt.

You can learn more about in-demand soft skills at the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail’s free workshops held at our locations in Bardstown, Elizabethtown, Lebanon and Leitchfield. Because employers are telling our staff what they’re looking for, the training is current and applicable to our region.

Success doesn’t come at the end of a class, of course. You have to make a commitment to practice these skills. Take a moment to look for an opportunity to use soft skills. Weigh all the possible solutions next time you need to solve a problem or spend an extra minute making sure you’ve expressed yourself clearly in an email, for instance. You’ll notice a difference in your performance, and you’ll likely notice an increase in your satisfaction for a job well done.

Carter Dyson is One Stop Director for Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail. He can be reached at (270) 766-5115 or

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The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail helps match job seekers with local employment and training opportunities. Our business solutions team offers employers of all sizes and industries personalized support to build a competitive workforce. We are an equal opportunity employer.
Program is funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds through the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.
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