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Identifying your skills helps you know the problems an employer wants to solve.

Your skills give the employers a reason to hire you.

What are your skills/skillset, I’d get asked when applying for a job a decade ago?

Then I’d look at the employer in dismay and would confidently say, I’m looking for any job and know that I can do any job I’m given.

Then, they’d tell me, ‘Leave your resume we’ll review it and get back to you. And I NEVER heard from them.

Do you know why you’re not getting a job despite the job industry in Kenya driven by nepotism and connections? You don’t know your skills.

  The job industry has changed significantly over the past years.

While many people still ascribe to getting good grades to help them land a job, employers are on the search for employees who have the best job skills.

Many job applications require you to list down a set of skills that you are going to bring to their company.

When you want to succeed in your job hunt, it is not your grades or the number of applications you’ve sent out that are going to have the way for you, but rather the skills that you have.

We are going to look at the best skills to have when applying for a job and also guide you on how you can identify these skills and use them to your advantage. 

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Careeer?

It is good to start thinking about your future and your life goals at any stage in your life. When you have finally thought about what career you want to help you realise these goals, there are some things you need to consider before you make a choice.

  1. Your education or training. As you start applying for jobs, reflect on your educational experience. This will help you know if you are suitable for the job, based on the skills you have acquired from your college degree.
  1. Your interests. Identify the activities that you enjoy doing. These are your hobbies. You want to apply for jobs that involve what you like.
  1. Your talents. Your talents are your strengths. If you have a talent in software development, you will want to apply for a job that involves software development. 
  1. Your values. You probably want a stable job, steady income and a healthy work/life balance. These are what you find valuable in any job. If a specific job cannot offer you that, you might not want to be applying there after all.
  1. Your personality. This is who you are as a person. If you are introverted, you will want to go for jobs that do not demand for you to put yourself out there.
  1. Your financial goals. Ask yourself how much money you want to make, what you want to achieve in terms of finances and the type of job you’re going to settle for.
  1. Your reasons. Ask yourself why you want to pursue this career. You may apply for a job because you feel fulfilled or accomplished when you do it.
  1. Your skills. Your skills are going to be what you are good at, that you can directly bring into a job role. Skills are often acquired through training although some are innate characteristics of a person.

Why are Skills Important When Applying for a Job?

Have you at one point struggled to gain or maintain employment?

If you have, chances are there is a way you were not contributing to your job role according to the expectations of your employer.

In the job industry, you will be working under someone, with people and under a lot of pressure.

Skills are important when applying for a job because it will help you in you work activities, for example:

  • Solving organisational problems and making decisions
  • Time management 
  • Effective communication and collaboration 
  • Self management 
  • Being able to work with others.
  • Business awareness and how well you understand your work. 

How Do I Identify My Skills?

It is important to evaluate your skills to know what best fits your career path. If you do not know what your skills are, there are ways you can use to identify the skills that you can use to apply for a job. Here are a few ways.

  1. Use the job description. A job description is one of the surest ways to know the skills a job is looking for in an organisation. Usually it is covered under the requirements of a person for that specific job role. We are going to break down how you can identify your best skills later in this article.
  1. Double down on your resume. 

 You will also want to look at your resume and take out the important skills that a specific job is looking for. From your resume, you can look at your educational skills as well as previous work experience that you can use to apply for the new job.

  1. Ask for feedback. Talk to your friends and see what they can dig out as some of your best skills.

 Oftentimes you may go on about your daily activities and not even pay attention to what you excel in. Have honest friends who will tell you what you are skilled in and can offer constructive criticism on what you can improve on.

  1. Take online tests. There are many self assessment and personality tests that are available over the Internet and you can use them to know what your best skills are.

 The good thing with these tests is that they are unbiased, but their accuracy is questionable. However, it is a good place to start.

  1. Focus on soft skills. Sometimes we do not have the hard skills to fit a specific job role. I recommended focusing on interpersonal skills that you possess. For example, if your friends say that you are a good listener, take that down as being a good communicator. 
  1. Look at your performance reviews. If you have worked for a previous job and went through performance assessment, then you can use the reviews to know what you are skilled at.

What are the Best Skills to Have When Applying for a Job?

Job skills are categorised into soft skills and hard skills. We are going to list the best of each category to help you lose them when applying for a job.

  • Soft Skills

These are interpersonal skills that include a person’s behaviour, character, attitude or personality. 

They include.

  1. Communication skills. 

Communication is by far the best skill that employers are looking for in today’s job market. 

Communication goes a long way in maintaining healthy relationships and managing business activities effectively. The best employees are excellent communicators.

  1. Time management. 

At work, you will be faced with the challenge of handling multiple tasks with strict deadlines. Employers want people who can manage their work effectively and get the most done without any delays or inconveniences. 

  1. Teamwork. Since you will not be working alone, you must develop your skills on how you can be collaborated through teamwork. This is very important and employers want people who can work well with others to achieve the organisational goals.
  1. Leadership. Through leadership, you are able to influence change and action. If one of your skills is leadership, then you are valuable to employers as it is one of the best skills they are looking for in employees. 
  1. Decision making and problem solving skills. 

This is also among the best skills you can include in your resume when you are applying for a job.

 If you are very analytical about situations and you can come up with the best solutions to a problem, then you are very valuable to employers. 

  1. Organisation skills. Being organised in what you do means that you can divide your multiple projects and handle different tasks effectively without mixing things up to bring about inconveniences.
  1. Negotiation skills. Knowing how to persuade customers or clients and close deals is a very important aspect of every business. If you have this skill, then it is possibly your strongest suit.
  1. Commercial awareness. Having strong business acumen is important for any business because employers need to know how the business world is moving without missing any important detail.
  1. Confidence. When applying for a job, I lacked confidence. When asked what kind of job I was looking for, I would answer in confidence, ‘ANY JOB’.

 No one gives anyone any job. I was open to receive. 

Opening yourself to receiving any opportunity may seem like the best option for you as a job seeker because there are no jobs anyway in Kenya. 

But your chances of getting a job are that slim. Confidence means, you know your skillset and the problems you are about to solve for the employer. 

  1. Resilience. A resilient person doesn’t give up when they receive the answer, NO. in fact, they go on to create their own YES by developing or adding to their skillset. 
  1. Perseverance and Motivation. 

Do you have the perseverance and motivation to withstand the trials and tribulations of a job? 

Are you sure you can persevere the moments when the going gets tough? Do you have the motivation to keep going forward when the mornings look gloomy? 

Lack of motivation and perseverance means you cannot achieve the intended goals for the company and yourself. 

  1. Knowledge of Company Culture/ How Company Works 

If you don’t know how the corporate world works, spend more time learning the structure of the company and how companies work. 

Understanding how the company culture affects the company and the employees lives helps you know if the company matches your style or if you value what they value. 

Understanding what a company value impacts your lives, you either get to love the job or get angry and sluggish in the job. 

  1. Open-mind/Learning Mind 

The day you stop learning or having an open mind to receiving information is the day you die not just physically but in every way. 

Opening your mind to receive information means, you get to know when to effect change or suggest developments or what new things needs to be done. 

Employers love it when you know, with deep knowledge, almost about anything, this shows your interest and openness. 

  1. Self-Management 

I call self-management, ‘Move when no one tells you, hears you or sees you. If you love a boss that breathes down your neck, then you won’t find employment very soon or if you do, prepare to earn 5000 shillings a month or less. 

Can you push yourself to achieve or to work more than is required? No employer wants to give instructions to their employees to the minute details.

 My school’s principal said, ‘Use your sixth common sense’. 

Common sense saves time for you and the employer so that you can focus on developing the company. 

  1. Critical Thinkers 

What have you been looking at and what did you see? They say, ‘There’s more than meets the eye’, don’t take this saying literally.

 It means, what else is there beyond what we know or see? Would you love an employee stuck in one way of thinking without exploring what happens on the other side? 

  1. Adaptable

Do you love change or does change scare you? What happens when the world around you changes too quickly for you to keep up? 

Do you turn around complaining or do you ask yourself what change can I make in my society? 

Companies change their policies and mottos all the time, employers want to know if you are able to keep up with the unforeseen changes and how you will cope. 

  1. Empathetic Skills. 

Ever walked into a brand/business to window shop then the attendants surprise you with their unhelpful or judgemental eyes? 

What did you do? Can you put yourself in someone else’s shoes before judging them too quickly? 

  • Hard Skills

These skills are acquired through education or training and the type of hard skill fitted for a job role will depend on the job you are applying for.

Some of the best hard skills include

  1. Computer skills. Some of the best computer skills that you must have when applying for a job will include social media prowess for marketing, Microsoft office skills and programming skills.
  1. Technical skills. You should be able to handle and maintain different office equipment that are used in the workplace, from the office printer to complex machines.
  1. Marketing skills. In every business, you will have to market your products or services. You must know how to use SEO, Google Analytics and even Email marketing skills if you are applying for a job.
  1. Data analysis.  Database management resource management and data engineering is an important skill set when you are applying for a job, especially in the tech and finance sector.
  1. Project management. Knowledge of Trello and Sum is important if you want to plan and management projects successfully. 

What Are Your Strengths?

These are the things that stand out for you and you can include them in your job application. 

Examples of strengths include.

  • Creativity. If you are a creative person, this means that you can come up with new innovative ideas for an organisation and this is something that employers find valuable. 
  • Flexibility. Being adaptive to change is one of the best skillset because you can accommodate any changes and improvements without dragging.
  • Reliability. This means that you are dependable and trustworthy to your employees and coworkers. 
  • Open mindedness. Keeping an open mind and welcoming any ideas and criticism from your employers and coworkers is something that is difficult to do, but can be achieved by anyone.
  • Detail oriented. Being detailed in your information is important for management and analysis so that you can communicate accurate information to your employers so that they can easily spot risk, losses or gains.

What Are Your Weaknesses?

Oftentimes, people always give this term a negative connotation, although I know some people who argue that your weaknesses can also be sure to mean something positive, for example, ” I can’t help it but be strong-willed.” 

However, if you are applying for a job the former should be considered. 

Your weaknesses are your bad habits of personality traits that are otherwise not appealing to people.

They include.

  • Procrastinating. If you love putting off work to handle them at a later date, it will not be good for you, even if you can submit before the deadline. 
  • Laziness. Laziness is oftentimes a result of procrastination, lack of self motivation and boredom. If you often feel tired taking on tasks that you do not like, it means you are not efficient in your work.
  • Introvertism. Introverts have this personality trait where they tend to self isolate and do things on their own. In the workplace, you will be working with others and putting yourself out there so you need to overcome this.
  • Easily bored. If you become instantly bored when you handle something that you are not interested in, it will leave you performing poorly in the workplace.
  • Taking things personally. Open room for criticism from your bosses and other coworkers if you want to grow.

Note that these should not be included in your job application.

What are the Skills and Experience You Bring to the Job Role?

The skills that you bring to the organisation should be something tangible that can help you in working with the employers, with the team and outsiders who contribute to the organisation, that is customers and clients. 

These skills and experiences are found in your resume and the job description.

For example, when a job description states: Can be able to conduct webinars, attend informal business meetings or speak in front of a large group, then it means that the skills that are being looked for include Communication skills, presentation skills and teamwork.

What Should I Put For Skills On a Job Application?

When you are applying for a job, you want to put your best foot forward and only sell your best skills for the organisation. This will help you stand out from the crowd. Your skills should always match the job requirements. 

How Do My Skills Match With The Job Requirements?

I’ll give you an example of how you can match your skills with a job description and requirements. 

 For example:

The ability to build relationships with peers and customers indicates communication skills, teamwork and customer service.

The ability to prioritise multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment indicates adaptive skills and time management. 

The ability to travel indicates flexibility. 

How Do I Acquire Skills?

Getting the skills necessary for a job is important. If you lack the skills for a job that you really want, here is how you can acquire them.

  1. Education. It is easier to acquire the best hard skills through education and training. You can take up short online courses or even get a degree ( which is the most appealing) for these jobs. 
  1. Finding a mentor. If there is someone who is skilled in what you want to know, you can approach them and let them coach you at a fee. The best sites to find these people are LinkedIn or even YouTube. 
  1. Take on more responsibilities. When you handle more tasks, you diversify your skills and learn more on how to handle different tasks. 
  1. Practice. Do not always think that you are good at something. Keep on practicing and improving your strategies if you want to grow.
  1. Read books. This will be self help and self development books that are useful when you want to develop the best soft skills when applying for a job.

How Do I Desscribe My Skills on a Resume?

Consider this job advert:

” We are looking for a dedicated person, skilled in Microsoft Office and HTML, who is reliable and can work well with others in a fast-paced environment “

When you are writing your resume, your best skills are in the keywords of this job advert. The keywords here are: dedicated, Microsoft Office and HTML, reliable, work with others and fast-paced environment. 

From there, we can include them in our resumes and show how we used these skills. Make your experiences stand out and be specific when you are listing your technical skills. Do not forget to use strong and positive action words.

For example, from the job advert, we can say, ” I am an aspiring software developer with excellent Microsoft Office and programming skills (HTML).”

How Do I Describe My Skills In an Interview?

When you are preparing for an interview, you want to list your best skills and all the successful tasks you have performed in your current or past job. Break down each of these tasks with the skills you used to accomplish them. Make your list to be very detailed.

You also have to have an acceptable level of self-confidence and awareness because, during interviews, you are mainly selling your personal brand.

Tips When Applying for a Job

Tips When Applying For a Job

What are your marketable skills? Do you know why an employer chose a resume over yours? Marketable skills are skills not everyone has and they can be soft or hard skills.

How do you set yourself from the crowd to make an employer select you over thousands of other job applicants? You have to go and identify yourself and what your strengths are.

Evaluate your softer skills more and also your hard skills. what makes you shine/stand apart?

Write every trait you come up with then ask yourself, how would I describe myself to an employer using these skills? How do I stand out?

You can practice your answers by yourself or in front of an analytical friend or family member.

Best Marketable Skills

I am going to list down some of the best skills that are common in nearly every job advert and can speak for you during your job applications.

  1. Communication skills. If you are able to listen and effectively relay information, then you are more likely to be employed in today’s job industry. 
  1. Flexibility. Jobs today can go through so many changes and sometimes you are required to travel. If you are a flexible person, it means that this will not be a problem to you and this is what employers want.
  1. Organisation skills. Having excellent organisation skills are important if you are going to work on multiple projects and handle a lot of paperwork; which is the lifecycle of every business activity. 
  1. Passion. Employers want people who are passionate about their work and can put in their best efforts to work toward achieving a common goal.
  1. Motivation. Being motivated when you handle the same tasks can be hard. If you can always wake up and take on these tasks without getting tired, then you are very useful to any organisation.

Skills to Develop for the Future Job Market

In the future, the job industry will be looking for a fresh pool of talent and you do not want to miss out because you lack the skills. This is what you can learn for the future job market. I will categorise them into soft skills and hard skills.

Soft skills

  1. Cultural intelligence. With the cultural diversity in today’s business world, it is important that you understand people’s culture so that you can work well with people from different walks of life and you can have a conducive work environment. 
  1. Social and emotional intelligence. This is important in managing work relationships with others. You will understand why people are the way the are and you will work towards improving yourself 
  1. Time management. Time management will still keep on being as prominent today’s as it was in the past. Working on projects and beating deadlines should be your goal.
  1. Innovation. To survive in this competitive world, employers are looking to hire employees who can come up with new creative ideas that are going to influence change and distinguish them from the rest of the businesses.
  1. Leadership. Leadership skills are important today and in the future because human relationships will never cease to exist and you should know how you can guide others and work with them to achieve your goals.

Hard skills

  1. Digital literacy. With the change in digital technology, it is important to know how to navigate digital systems and networks because technology will keep on changing and improving and in the future, what we use now will be of a completely different model. 
  1. Computational thinking. This involves having thorough mathematical knowledge so that you are able to decipher information in a clear and precise way.
  1. Artificial intelligence. Having good computational intelligence is mandatory because there is a rise in simulations that impact human intelligence into computers. Having these skills will be very relevant in the future job market.
  1. Data analysis. Having good knowledge on data management and engineering will be very useful in the future job industry.

Why Is It Important to Develop New Skills?

Developing new skills is important for the following reasons. 

  1. Competition.  Today’s job market is very competitive. Skills are not unique to one person alone. You have to perfect these skills and develop new ones so that you can increase your skill set and gain a competitive advantage over other applicants. 
  1. A changing business world. In the future, there will be fresh skills that are needed for the job market. You have to know that you can keep up and adapt to this change.
  1. To increase your value. You become more valuable to others when you are skilled in your field. Select the best skills and perfect them if you want to create a good impression in your job.
  1. For growth. You get to develop and grow yourself when you leave new skills everyday. This will give you a sense of self fulfillment and awareness as well.
  1. To gain new experiences. When you start learning new skills, you open yourself up to a horizon that offers amazing opportunities and experiences.

What are the Best Universal Skills Employers Look For in Employees?

To find out what skills employers are looking for, you can read job adverts or ask the employers what they want from you. Some of the skills that are essential for any workplace anywhere around the world include:

  1. Sales and marketing. Every business and company needs sales and marketing skills.

 Salespeople are some of the most valued and important people in an organisation. If you have good marketing strategies and sales skills, then you are likely to succeed when you apply for a job.

  1. Computer skills. Knowing how to navigate the computer systems and network is something that everyone has to know. 

The world has changed and computers are a part of us now. Businesses are incorporating computers to handle even the simplest of tasks.

  1. Communication skills. Having excellent communication skills is important and employers all over the world are looking for people who can work well with others, relay information and effectively respond to customer complaints and demands.
  1. Critical thinking. Employers are looking for employees who can make decisions and solve problems in the organisation using the critical skills that they have.
  1. Leadership. Since you will be working in teams and sometimes you will be given tasks that need you to delegate duties, you will have to have leadership qualities that will make you successful in these relations.

FAQs on Best Skills to Have When Applying for a Job in Kenya

What skills should I put on a job application?

Customer service 

Creativity 

Problem-solving 

Communication 

What are the top 5 skills?

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills 

Oral and written communication skills 

Teamwork and collaboration 

Leadership 

Strong work ethic 

What are the top strengths that employers look for? 

Plan, organise and prioritise 

Obtain and process information 

Communicate with clients and colleagues 

Work in a team 

What are the 5 hard skills?

Technical skills 

Computer skills 

Project management skills 

Microsoft office skills 

Marketing skills 

How do I identify my skills? How do I identify my strengths? 

Reflect on your job descriptions 

What are your soft skills? 

Check out job postings in your industry and ask yourself, what skills do employers seek? 

Check/review your resume 

Listen to feedback 

Consider your passions 

Seek out new experiences 

How would you describe yourself in a job setting? 

What do I do if my skills don’t match what a company/employer is looking for in an employee? 

Either don’t apply for the role. 

Or reexamine your resume but don’t lie then tailor-make your skills to match what employers want from their employees. 

Spend time researching the company you’re applying to on Facebook, check their websites or Linkedin in order to understand their company culture.

 Then ask yourself, do I have a similar experience or do I ‘’look’’ like that employee this company wants? 

Finding what your best skills are is a sure-fire way to succeed when you are applying for a job. 

Do not list what you think is best for an organisation, but make sure that what you are willing to offer for that job is something that is valuable and useful to the company.

If you do not know what these skills are or how you can acquire them, I suggest you do your research and get some training. 

Remember that employers are looking for the best for their company and if your skills match, your chances of getting hired increase. 

I realised and keep realising why I NEVER got hired or heard back from the companies I wanted to work for both online and offline. 

I wasn’t clear on the problem I was going to solve for the company. If you don’t know what skills you possess or what you bring to the table, you don’t seem valuable no matter how colourful your resume is. 

What are your skills, have you identified what your skills are? Do you know how to use your soft skills to get a job? Or are you stuck in the Goliath that is of job search in Kenya?  


stephanie

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