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Employers seeking workers with skills to help build competitive edge

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With the economy and job market continuing to slowly improve, more employers are shifting their focus from survival mode to gaining a competitive advantage, according to OI Partners-Innovative Career Consulting of Denver.

“Employers want workers who can help them capitalize on the improved economy and benefit from opportunities presented by less competitively skilled and structured companies. They are looking for workers with skills to help them to quickly grow their businesses, cut their costs and improve their operations,” said Susan Ruhl, Managing Partner with OI Partners-Innovative Career Consulting.

“The lower unemployment rate and improved economy represent good and bad news for job-seekers. While there are generally more jobs available, there is even more competition for them. This is putting added pressure on employees to possess ‘must-have’ skills,” added Ruhl.

OI Partners-Innovative Career Consulting recently surveyed its clients and consultants to compile a list of qualities that employers feel will help them gain a competitive edge. These include:

1. Multi-tasking. Employers want workers who can perform several duties simultaneously and don’t have the time or patience for “one-job” employees anymore. To get hired and succeed once aboard, workers need to be able to handle whatever must be done – not only the duties in their job descriptions.

2. Big-picture perspective. This “big-picture” viewpoint includes a thorough understanding of the company’s mission and purpose and how each employee’s job and the work of their department impacts the organization as a whole.

3. Decisiveness. Decisive employees take the initiative to identify and resolve problems and examine existing issues in new and different ways. Employees who can think critically and make decisions cut down on micro-management and free up time for matters that affect the entire organization.

4. Flexibility. Routines have become relics of the past. Flexibility in all aspects of work is now essential. Employees need to adapt to change, be open to new ideas, take on new responsibilities, cope with pressure, and adjust plans to meet changing needs.

5. Problem-solving. Employees need to comprehend the difference between critical and unimportant details, grasp underlying issues, and be able to simplify problems by breaking them down into smaller components and processing them.

6. Teamwork. Teams may now include four generations and the ability to work with all in a variety of settings is vital. Workers must balance their own responsibilities with interests of the team, respect group goals, and share knowledge and expertise with others easily and frequently.

7. Sense of urgency. Employees who display a sense of urgency instill this in others, prioritize effectively, beat deadlines, exhibit high energy and aggressively explore opportunities.

8. Passion. Employees need to be as passionate about their jobs as their bosses. People perform better when they are connected to and believe in the mission and purpose of their employers.

9. Above and beyond duties. The willingness to contribute extra effort and go above and beyond job requirements is becoming indispensable. Employers want workers who persistently search for ways to add value.

10. Long-term career with employer. With the number of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs up for the past four straight years, employers are increasingly seeking employees who want to stay with them. Workers who regard their jobs as a learning opportunity and value the experience they acquire more than their pay checks are gaining a competitive edge over other job-seekers.


About this Examiner: Kathryn Marion is the award-winning author of GRADS: TAKE CHARGE of Your First Year After College!, the most comprehensive resource for navigating the world of work and independent living after graduation, as well as host of the book’s companion resource site, The print edition of GRADS: TAKE CHARGE is available through Amazon and other online booksellers. The e-book edition is available through e-junkie.

Kathryn also coaches students, graduates, and career changers as well as consults with small businesses and aspiring authors.

Follow her other Examiner columns: College to Career and Life After College. And even more articles on



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