Episode #65 – The Skills That Make Candidates Stand OUT to Employers

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health Companies and Veterinary Employers hire top talent, while helping Animal Health Professionals and Veterinarians attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the skills that make candidates stand out to employers. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here today.

Sharita: Stacy, we’ve tackled this topic before in this podcast. But this time, we’re going to take a different angle. This time, we’re going to discuss specific skills that employers are seeking in job candidates.

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct.

Sharita: However, we won’t be talking about technical skills, is that right?

Stacy: That’s right. There are a lot of technical skills in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. It would be nearly impossible for us to discuss all of them in multiple podcasts, much less one podcast. Not only that, but for the purposes of standing out to employers, technical skills only get a job seeker or candidate so far. A lot of professionals can possess approximately the same technical skill level. As a result, when organizations compare candidates to each other on a purely technical basis, it’s more difficult to tell which one is the better candidate.

The skills that I’ll be talking about today are non-technical skills that can give you an edge over other candidates in the marketplace. When you get right down to it, that’s what you want: any edge you can get that will show you are the better candidate and you are the candidate who deserves a job offer. The bottom line is receiving an offer, and a candidate’s skills play an important role in whether or not they ultimately receive one.

So we have technical skills, or hard skills, on one hand and then we have non-technical skills, or soft skills, on the other.

Sharita: Stacy, can you briefly talk about the difference between the two so there’s no confusion for our listeners.

Stacy: Absolutely. Technical or hard skills are teachable skills. That means you can learn them. You can either teach yourself, other people can teach you, or both.

Technical or hard skills are also quantifiable. This means they produce quantifiable results and you can be graded and/or evaluated for your ability.

Soft skills, on the other hand, refer to skills that involve the way you interact with other people, specifically your boss and co-workers. Soft skills are also referred to in other ways, one of which is “people skills,” which you’ve probably heard before.

Sharita: And today, we’ll be discussing the soft skills that can help job seekers and candidates stand out to employers?

Stacy: Yes, but I want our listeners to consider these skills transferrable soft skills.

Sharita: What does that mean, transferrable soft skills?

Stacy: Transferrable soft skills are those that can be applied to a number of different areas within a specific profession, and they can even be transferred from one career to another. That’s not to say that we expect today’s listeners to get out of their current career field. But if transferable soft skills have that kind of power, then you have to wonder how much they could help your current career.

Sharita: We’ve also referenced this before in a podcast, but candidates don’t compete for jobs in a vacuum. Can you elaborate on that?

Stacy: Yes, this means that you’re not competing against no one for an open job. You’re not “running unopposed,” like a politician. You’re competing against other people. As a result, it makes the most sense to not only prepare for the hiring process as much as possible, but also to make yourself as attractive as possible.

Sharita: So how many skills will you be covering today?

Stacy: We’re going to cover five main transferrable soft skills that can give Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals an edge in the employment marketplace. Specifically, these skills can help them to stand out to employers.

Sharita: Stacy, what’s the first one?

Stacy: The first one is communication. The ability to communicate well is more than just a valued skill. That’s because miscommunication can be a destructive force within the workplace. All it takes is one miscommunication between two people to derail a project or kill a deal.

Sharita: You’re not just talking about verbal communication, either, are you?

Stacy: No, being proficient in ALL forms of communication is essential to increasing your worth and value as an employee and a candidate. So yes, that means written communication skills, as well as the various forms of non-verbal communication.

Sharita: What’s our second soft skill?

Stacy: The second one is active listening. I know this is actually part of communication, but I want to break this out and address it separately. That’s because I’ve seen candidates who have derailed their candidacy when they were going through the interview process, because they weren’t able to listen well.

I’ve interviewed people who want to talk the whole time. In an interview situation, you have to practice active listening or you will miss out on hearing information about what the employer is trying to tell you and you won’t learn.

As a recruiter, I talk to a LOT of people on a daily basis. I’ve discovered during my career that I learn more if I listen more than I talk. You learn a lot just by sitting and listening. In fact, I’ve had people tell me that I’m an excellent communicator when all I did was listen and let them talk. They were doing most of the talking, but they would tell me I’m a great communicator.

I’ve instructed numerous candidates about this over the years. I’ve told them that they must practice active listening skills during interviews. Then some will go into the interview and talk most of the time. Not only that, but they also interrupt the interviewers! Whether you are going through an interview process or just in your day-to-day work, this is a very valuable skill, and I encourage Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to focus on it.

Sharita: Stacy, what’s our third skill?

Stacy: Our third skill is time management. This means being able to manage your time, but it can mean managing the time of others, as well. It also means getting more done in less time. Employers want to hire people who are efficient. That equates to higher levels of production, which in turn equates to higher levels of revenue and ultimately higher levels of profit. And that’s exactly how you tie a skill or trait directly to a potential employer’s bottom line.

Sharita: What’s our fourth skill?

Stacy: Our fourth skill is sales, but of course, not everyone is a sales person. So this skill is really the art of persuasion. It measures how much influence you have over people or over a situation. The ability to “sell” something is valuable, no matter where you work or your position within the organization. Basically, this boils down to the ability to make other people see your point of view on a subject. No matter what industry or field in which you work, ideas are bought and sold on a daily basis. If you possess the ability to persuade other people, then you possess value that other people do not.

But if you do work as a sales person, I read the other day that the best sales people listen more than they talk and the worst sales people talk the whole time. And that goes back to active listening, which was the second skill on our list.

Sharita: Stacy, we’ve reached our fifth and final skill. What might that be?

Stacy: Our fifth skill is leadership.

Sharita: Stacy, hold on for a second. Isn’t it true that not everyone is a leader or can be a leader?

Stacy: That’s right, but leadership is a skill that’s highly valued by employers. They like to see candidates who have leadership potential. True leadership is a commodity that is always in short supply.

You’ve probably heard this saying before: “There are too many cooks in the kitchen.” Organizations need leaders, and they need them at all levels. They want to hire them, grow them from within, do whatever they need to do to get them. Specifically, though, they need genuine, authentic leaders . . . not people who think they’re a leader but who really are not.

Sharita: So these are the skills that can give candidates an edge in the job market, including in the hiring process?

Stacy: Yes. Let’s say that two candidates are competing for the same position, and they both have approximately the same level of hard skills and the same amount of experience. Soft skills will break the tie. Actually, transferable soft skills will really break the tie, since they make a person even more valuable as an employee.

Sharita: So what should our listeners do?

Stacy: I recommend that they strive to amass as many transferable soft skills as they can. These skills will make an Animal Health or Veterinary professional more valuable to their current employer and they’ll also make that person a more attractive candidate to other organizations while trying to grow their career.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!