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What do employers want?

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I was just reviewing the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) Job Outlook 2011 report and one of the sections caught my eye -- "What Employers Want: Candidate Skills and Qualities". I found it interesting that employers are much more interested in verbal communication skills rather than written skills, ranking it at the top of the list. Following that was strong work ethic, teamwork skills, analytical skills and initiative. Rounding out the top ten list were problem-solving skills, writing skills, interpersonal skills, computer skills, and flexibility/adaptability. What really struck me was that I am currently serving on a hiring committee now, and these are exactly the qualities we seek in the employee we're seeking. The ability to communicate and work well with others is far more important to our team than technical skills. And yet the technical skills are what the majority of applicants emphasize in their resumes and application documents.

Teaching is a career field in which verbal skills are especially crucial. Not only does a teacher need to instruct students, but equally important is the ability to collaborate with other teachers and staff. We often hear about group interviews in which principals interview two or three candidates at a time and watch how they interact with one another. Does the applicant "hog" the floor or does he allow others space to respond? Are they critical of others' answers or do they use those response to build their own examples? In addition, communication with students' parents and guardians is critical to successfully handling the problems that can occur with a student's performance. Is the teacher able to demonstrate their concern and care for the student and work with the family as a team to enhance his or her learning experience?

Strong communication skills, as well as the ability to analyze and solve problems mean fewer visits to the principal's office, for both students and parents. Administrators would much prefer to handle the other pressing budget and resource issues than dealing with issues that could have been managed in the classroom. So when you're applying or interviewing for a position, be sure to demonstrate effective communication skills. You'll be glad you did.

--Diana Sanchez, Career Counselor, California State University San Marcos and
AAEE, Director of Professional Development

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