Main image of article Do Your Skills Match What the Hiring Manager Wants?
We spend a lot of time talking about job skills here on Dice -- the need to have them, ways to get more of them and a fair number of arguments about how many you need. The focus of these skills are what I would call "hard" job skills -- certifications, programming skills, methodology skills, and all those things to show you know how to do the work. But what if all of that, when it comes to the hiring manager, was simply not important? We get frustrated when we see things like this in the news:
In fact, many organizations are hiring in droves. Much as job seekers would like to think the problem is the market, and they’re perfectly qualified, that simply isn’t the case. Candidates are failing at their job search because they don’t have the skills that employers want, plain and simple.
I can see the comments already! The above quote, is based on some fact. Using a survey of over 500 managers and 700 job seekers, the gap between the available skills (of job seekers) and what the managers were looking for were quite different. Here is the money part of the survey:
At the entry-level, the skills and traits with the highest indicator scores were a strong work ethic and the ability to get along well with others. For mid-level candidates, problem-solving and communication scored highest.  At the managerial level, business acumen and global outlook did.  Across all three levels, strategic perspective received the highest score.
You see why there is a big gap between what we think of as job skills and what employers want? What hiring managers are looking for has little to do with "hard" skills -- programming languages learned, certifications achieved or even business results. Instead, it's about problem solving, working with a team, and understanding how the pieces fit together in the bigger picture of the work. Now, I've always argued that your resume is what gets you the initial screening interview, so what you need to prove in those early stages is that you have the skills to do the work. If you prove that, you can move on to the interview. Once you make it to the hiring manager, though, the interview becomes more about your motivation and how well you will fit in with the boss and the team. The assumption is that, yes, you do have the hard skills to do the work. But do you get how your work fits into the bigger picture? Can you work with the other employees? Most of us either go into the interview or leave thinking it's about our cool technical talent. When that's not what the hiring manager is looking at -- we get a skills gap. If this were job advice, I'd take this survey at face value and say we need to focus our hiring managers on our problem-solving capability and understanding of the bigger picture. I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'd like to ask you about your job interviews with hiring managers (not phone or screening interviews, but hiring managers): What are the questions you're asked? Are they questions that ask about your problem solving, communications with others, and big picture fit? Or are they questions about how you think code is poetry? Tell me by posting a comment below.