You Don’t Have to Meet Every Requirement: 5 Skills That Are OK to Develop on the Job
Looking through job listings can be intimidating. Even if you’re well-credentialed and have years of experience in your industry, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a job where the requirements perfectly match what’s listed on your resume. Don’t be discouraged! In most cases, the job requirements are more like a wishlist than rigid demands. Technical skills and licensures are probably criteria you have to meet, but some skills can be learned on the job.
You don’t need to fulfill every single requirement in the job description—hiring managers will be willing to consider your application as long as you meet the basic ones and have the right attitude. Of course, this requires that you frame your resume in the right way. If you’re concerned that your resume might not get HR’s attention, hire a professional to write or improve it!
Some people seem to have an uncanny capacity for big-picture thinking. They can see how the pieces of a problem fit together and easily develop a solution. Unfortunately, this isn’t a common skill, and chances are you’re not one of the lucky few who have it. Take heart, though, because this is a learnable skill! With enough practice, you can develop your ability to solve problems.
Get into the habit of making observations from day one on the job. Maintain a file on your computer where you list problems you see at work and the way they’re resolved. Just as helpful as a list where you collect information about the strategies that didn’t work. In time, you’ll be able to discern patterns and identify which problem-solving approaches make sense. You’ll also improve your knowledge about different aspects of your job and your field, becoming a better-rounded candidate.
If you’re faced with a problem and don’t know how to resolve it, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Make a mental list of friendly colleagues who are adept at solving problems and seek their advice. Think of it as crowdsourcing. You can still take credit for partially solving a problem, and you’ll also advance your problem-solving capabilities while strengthening your relationship with your co-workers.
2. Public speaking
Many jobs require you to speak in front of audiences, which terrifies most people. Though it may seem intimidating at first, seek out any opportunity you can to practice or learn from those who have already developed this skill. Watch videos of charismatic speakers and think about ways you can incorporate elements of their approach into your public speaking style. It may also be helpful to watch instructional videos or join an organization like Toastmasters, where you’ll have the opportunity to speak regularly before an audience.
When you have a presentation coming up, be sure to get ample practice as well. Recording a video of your practice speech can be a good way to gauge how you might look to an audience. You can always ask friends and family for feedback.
3. Industry-specific knowledge
You may not have extensive industry knowledge, especially if you’re a fresh graduate or are switching careers. It’s your credentials that will qualify you for a position, and hiring managers understand that you will have to spend some time on the job before you become a seasoned hand.
Speed up your acquisition of knowledge by seeking out mentorship, attending conferences and workshops, and making diligent observations. Depending on your field, you may be able to learn a lot off the job as well, whether via the internet, real-life classes, or hands-on practice at home.
4. Workflow management
Even if you don’t have formal experience with project management, you’ve been doing it since you were assigned homework for the first time. You had to keep track of tasks and project deadlines in school, then manage a schedule and monitor your finances throughout your adult life. Working life is no different, except you get paid to do it!
If you don’t have a clear idea of what strategies work for you, now is the time to figure it out. Explore different project management software (such as Todoist and Microsoft To Do) and find which works for you. If you struggle with organization, try practicing by organizing other aspects of your life. This may even lead to developing habits that increase your productivity.
Keep in mind that workflows differ from company to company, so it will be important to learn the system your new employer uses. Ask for documents that outline team hierarchies and communication plans. This will allow you to merge your organizational preferences with the system in place from day one.
5. Working with clients
Regardless of your role, you should spend some time thinking about your approach to client services. Even if you aren’t in a customer-facing position, thinking of your boss as your client can be helpful as you settle in. Observe how senior employees interact with clients and try to replicate their behavior. To improve your client-facing competencies, try working on your soft skills—many of them will make you more adept at customer service.
Other ways to build skills on the job
You’ve probably noticed a theme in this article: be a good observer, ask for help, and pursue company- and industry-specific education. Seeking out mentorship, optional training opportunities, and feedback from colleagues and supervisors is the best way you can learn the on-the-job skills you’ll need to be successful in your new position. Be open to new opportunities and information, stay curious, and always be on the lookout for ways to improve your skills.
As you look through job postings, divide the requirements into “must-haves” and “can-learns.” If you meet the “must-haves,” apply for the job! Having a polished resume that highlights your soft skills and initiative can give you a leg up, especially if you’re fresh out of college or new to the field. Hire an expert to rewrite your resume so you can be sure that you’re submitting the best application you possibly can!