Employability skills: do you have the competency to land that next great job? It all depends on what the employer is looking for, and how you present yourself.

Yesterday, I looked at how employers might test aptitude. Today, I want to look at what employers are looking for in job candidates. From this, you can look at your employability skills and see if you have the competency to land that next high-paying job.

To start, did you know that all employers have some basic things that they are looking for in the people they are going to hire? I can say this not only from experience because I do hire people for my model rocket business, and I do talk to all my business neighbors and ask them what they look for too.

Here’s the kicker that is going to shock you. The same things that employers want in today’s business environment are the same things that they looked for about 3000 years ago. I say this, because I see them documented in the Bible. Check out this verse that we looked at yesterday:

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility- young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. Daniel 1:3-4 (NIV)

Let’s dissect this verse and look at the characteristics that this employer wanted, and that you’ll need too if you want to create wealth for yourself. As you go through this list, ask yourself, why would an employer want to have this type of qualification in the person working for him.

The first characteristic is to develop the ability to learn a wide variety of subjects (“showing aptitude for every kind of learning”).

This seems strange on the surface, because as we know from help-wanted advertisements, it seems that employers want a specialists. And this is further reinforced by schools that churn out specialists.

What makes it a head-scratcher, is that most people think that a specialist doesn’t have to know a lot about other subjects. But that really isn’t the case. The very best and the most specialize in any occupation know more than you realize about other disciplines, and they use facets of those topics to add to their specialty.

I remember reading about a famous surgeon that was a specialist in performing very delicate operations with minimal invasiveness to the patient. It turned out that he was also a mechanical engineer and he used that engineering training to develop the tools he needed for his precision operations. His breadth of knowledge allowed him to be the best surgeon in his field and brought him a lot of business.

Well Informed

The next employee qualification in the verse is to be “well informed.” I look at this as being up-to-date on the latest happenings in the industry. Going back to an example of a doctor, can you imagine being operated on by a great surgeon from 30 years ago? He may have been great 30 years ago, but he’d probably be considered a butcher by today’s standards. Technology changes, and you have to keep abreast of the latest happenings.

Quick To Understand

Now we get to “quick to understand” qualification.

What does that mean? Does it mean someone that is quick to learn new things, such as a person that has a photographic memory? I don’t think it does. At least I hope it doesn’t mean that. I don’t have a photographic memory, nor do I learn new facts quickly. I think there is a big difference between learning and understanding.

I believe that the job qualification is describing “wisdom.” In other words, it is describing someone that is able to take a new fact, and see how it applies to situation. It is like picking up a piece of a puzzle, and saying, “I recognize the importance of this piece, it will fit right into there.”

The reason I say it is describing wisdom is that not everyone that has the ability to learn quickly knows importance. I’ll give you an example that maybe you are familiar with.

Do you know the one phrase that nearly everyone has on their resume, cover letter, or that they say in an interview? It is the phrase is “I learn quickly.” I’m so sick of seeing that printed on resumes, that it makes me want to puke. It is almost a joke when I see it now, because they really think that it makes them stand out from everyone else in the crowd.

In spite of the commonality of “I’m a quick learner,” do you know what? I believe them. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. They probably are quick learners.

But does learning quickly how to do a task, or learning a new procedure make them worthy to work for me? I’d much rather they learned “why” that task is so important in the first place. I don’t want them doing the task quickly if it is important. And I certainly don’t want them modifying it without understanding why I instituted it in the procedures in the first place. Those types of people wouldn’t be of much value to an employer, wouldn’t you agree?

Physical Attributes Wanted By Employers

There are a few other physical characteristics that this employer was looking for in his new hires. They are “young, handsome, and without defect.” It today’s legal environment, you can’t ask job candidates about these things. It would discriminate against the old, ugly, and the sickly. And if you think about it, the without defect attribute can also apply to the legal status of a candidate, such as citizenship or criminal record.

But do you know what? That is the honest truth about what every employer is looking for in people that work for his company. There is statistic after statistic that the good looking, healthy, and young studs receive higher salaries than other people that may have the same resume. Employers are trying to attract those kind of people to work for them, and they are doing it by paying higher salaries. “It isn’t fair, it is just the way it is.”

One Last Competency Skill

There is one last competency skill that this king wanted in the employees that worked for him. That was “are they willing to serve.” In my mind, this is no less important than any of the other criteria. If it were me, I’d rank it highest of any of the other attributes in order of importance.

It is so hard to find someone that is service oriented. I personally view the recruitment process as wandering through a wasteland. You’re searching to find someone that actually cares and wants to help you, but they are nowhere to be found. You go months and months seeing the same type of drab candidates. However, there are a few rare ones with a service-oriented attitude that actually stand out. These people have that one exceptional quality of being service oriented that makes me want to do business with them.

And when you find one; OMG, they are like one of those illuminating flares that light up the deepest, darkest nights. They give you that feeling of importance that you strive for. They can make your light shine within you too. I like being around those people, don’t you?

There you have the basic employability skills that employers are looking for. They haven’t changed much in 3,000 years, have they? A person that had these on their resume would be a winner, don’t you think?

Bonus Idea for Employers

Oh… I have one last bonus idea that you can use in your life that we can get out of this passage from the bible. Do you want to hear it? It is actually good news for employers.

As rare as these individuals are that have these employability skills, they do happen to congregate together. When you find one, they usually know where another person like themselves are hanging out. We all like to be around people like ourselves, and these rare individuals are no exception. They want to be friends with people that has similar characteristics. So if you find one of those rare individuals, look at who they have as friends. They are potential employees too.

We see this in the bible passage. The ruler of the super-power nation knew exactly where to look for people to work in his palace. He didn’t go to the ghettos. He went to the nobility of the nation he took over. The best always rise to the top, so he started at the top when he was doing his search.

Are You Among The Elite?

I think that is cool. And that is why you are reading this right now. I know you are among the elite if you are reading this. The commoners aren’t interested in making themselves better. Only the best people are interested in that.

So I want to thank you for coming around to this web site today. I really appreciate it. And I hope you will spread the word to your other friends that this web site is a good place for them to hang out too. You might encourage them to sign up for my free newsletter. In it, I try to give other information and wisdom insights that will help them to reach their financial goals a lot quicker. And if you haven’t already signed up, I’d welcome your addition as a subscriber too. We can’t have enough of the best-of-the-best. Together, let’s make money, God’s way!

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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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7 Responses to “Employability Skills: Do you have the Competency?”

  1. Dewayne Chriswell says:

    Hey Tim,

    Great job checklist, it seems to coveer all of the bases. Thanks,


  2. Rob Northrup says:

    Very excellent list.

    For an entry level job I would rank these traits the highest:

    1) Reliability- always there when they say they’ll be there on time.

    2) Prepared for Work- dressed and groomed appropriately, arrive early enough to be on task at start of work time, don’t waste first half hour chit-chatting.

    3) Productive- stays busy on task, if they are out of things to do be looking for other ways to help without neglecting primary work.

    and lastly

    4) Positive personality- friendly, smiley, no whining and complaining, sees current opportunity as one step on a ladder to be mastered and then climbed.

    Seize the Day,

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  3. Hi Tim,

    That biblical combination of good looking/normal and eager to learn, it makes all the difference for employers and all relationships, doesn’t it?

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Christian Dating Expert and Coach

  4. Interesting take on hiring & employability. Just makes me glad I don’t have to worry about doing hiring these days!

    The Success Secrets

  5. Imagine the same characteristics as 3,000 years ago are still being sought for!

    Great article with lots of usable insights!

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  6. Parents should also be looking for similar characteristics when hiring a babysitter. Your list is perfect for almost any job.

    Lisa McLellan
    Babysitting Services, Nanny Services, and Nanny agencies

  7. It makes sense that these things are still around. They say that good things stand the test of time. Obviously people with these skills do well in jobs, or people wouldn’t still be hiring them. I like to think that my being a jack-of-all-trades allows me to adapt to various situations, because I have knowledge and experience in various areas. I would probably look for employees who are similar, unless it was for a very specific job.

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