Skills and Experience Are Not Enough

When people come to me for career development one thing that I find that they have often overlooked, to their peril I might add, is to understand that experience and skills are not enough. Do not mistake what I am saying, you must have skills, you must have them in abundance, in order to be competitive and they must be up to date. Also, every employer is looking for some level of experience and usually the more the better. But skills and experience alone will not land you the job. That news often comes as a surprise to people, especially individuals that are highly skilled with years of experience in their chosen fields.

These clients usually have a story of at least one time (usually several) where they did were passed over for a promotion or lost a job opportunity to individuals they “knew” or at least perceived as less skilled or experienced than themselves. What they failed to realize was that “the race is not always to the swift nor victory to the strong”. These individuals have failed to take stock of what employers are looking for when they hire and promote individuals.

The experienced hiring manager, when looking for someone to add to their team, is looking for more than skills and experience.  They are looking for the best possible match for their team or department. The problem with that is that it is a very subjective judgment that must be made.

Hiring managers, the wise ones anyway, are looking for the well rounded individuals not one sided individuals. They are looking for skills yes, a degree of experience yes, but also individuals with at least three other traits. They are looking for someone who is teachable, manageable, and with a great positive attitude.

Teachable means that you are accepting of and willing to learn new ways and methods of doing things. You realize that despite your great knowledge and skills you still have things to learn. You must be open to laying aside your ways and methods in favor of others. You must be willing to try and explore new things. This means that you embrace or are at least open to the possibility of change.

Manageable means that you can accept direction and will follow instruction willingly and often without questioning the reasons or authority of your manager. It also means that you “keep your nose clean” and don’t participate in the “office dramas” that can be divisive to your workgroup or team.  To convincingly portray this skill is no small feat for individuals who believe that their skills and knowledge are superior to their team members and/or their manager or to those individuals that feel they have something to say on most every issue and feel some inner compulsion to have to share it. In short being manageable means you exhibit a degree of humility and won’t be a pain in the ass to your team or manager.

A Positive Attitude that projects a “can do” feeling is what that managers know will add to their team and can be infectious when supported and rewarded. Managers don’t like, want or need negativity on their team and will avoid individuals they perceive as potentially negative risks. Just as a positive attitude can be infectious, it is doubly true that an individual with a “bad attitude” can bring a team down and potentially destroy it. A smiling, easygoing persona helps to project a positive attitude. This doesn’t mean that everything has to be lollipops and sunshine all the time with you. What it does call for is a good degree of emotional intelligence so that you can self-manage your moods so that they don’t negatively impact your team or manager.

Whether prepping for an interview or managing your current career the ability to project the qualities of being teachable, manageability, and having a positive attitude will serve you well in your career.

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