We are looking for an individual who can quickly fit into our organisation and produce added value for our company. The individual who is flexible and can adapt easily is most likely to achieve success, both for our company and themselves. Transferable skills (i.e. those skills which can be applied in a variety of different contexts and situations) are highly valued by us. This individual should be a graduate with not only a good degree and experience, but also a range of transferable skills. In our case these skills are valued above the class of degree. There are many types of transferable skill that we would expect possible candidates to have.
Such applicants should be able to show that they have practiced and acquired abilities and skills, among them the analytical and research skills necessary for approaching and dealing with concepts and data, to see and propose alternatives, and to solve problems. They should have developed communication skills, oral and written, and qualities characteristic of a curious and inquiring mind. They should have acquired a greater understanding of the nature of human relations, expression and purpose. It is an advantage if they have learned organisational skills, the ability to work with others in common enterprise, commitment and the worth of difference. Such skills or qualities, precise or vague, are highly valued by us and are much needed in our competitive environment.
There are many transferable skills that we would find useful. Some of the possible skills that we would find valuable are shown. Prospective candidates need not have all of the skills given, but should be able to demonstrate evidence of having several of the skills that we require. These skills are not ranked in order of importance, but skills that are particularly important are indicated.
Information Management Skills
Prospective applicants should possibly be able to show that they are able to sort data and objects, compile and rank information, apply information creatively to specific problems or tasks, synthesise facts concepts and principles, understand and use these organising principles and evaluate information according to appropriate standards. They must also be able to demonstrate a high level of competence in verbal reasoning and numerical interpretation. For example, previously being the treasurer of an organisation gives a good grounding in this skill. Evidence of computer literacy should be sought. Numerical reasoning tests also give a good indication of whether the applicant has a sufficient level of competence in this area.
Design and Planning Skills
Potential applicants should show that they are able to identify alternative courses of action, to set realistic goals, to follow through with a plan or decision and manage time effectively. They should be able to predict future trends and patterns, to accommodate multiple demands for commitment of time, energy and resources. They should be able to show they can assess needs, to make and keep a schedule, and to set priorities. If a potential applicant has management experience, they are likely to have satisfied the criteria for this skill. Management and business games are an effective method of testing applicants.
Research and Investigative Skills
Future applicants should be able to demonstrate that they have the appropriate research and investigative skills; these include using a variety of sources of information, to be able to apply a variety of methods to test the validity of data, to identify particular problems and needs in certain situations. They should show that they could design experiments, plans or models to define problems systematically. They should also be able to identify informational sources appropriate to special needs or problems and formulate relevant questions to clarify a problem, topic or issue. If an applicant has experience of databases and/or information libraries then they are likely to have fulfilled the requirements for this section.
Forthcoming applicants should be able to exhibit effective communication skills both in the interview and on the curriculum vitae. They should be able to listen with objectivity, paraphrase with accuracy and use various writing styles and forms. They should be able to speak effectively to individuals and groups and use media to present ideas imaginatively. They should be able to express one’s needs, wants, opinions and preferences, without violating the rights of others. They should also be able to identify and effectively express value judgements and describe objects or events with few factual errors. It is an advantage if they convey a positive self-image. Communications skills are particularly important. If the applicant has experience of working in international sales or purchasing operations, then he is likely to have sufficient qualifications in this area. These skills should be apparent at the interview.
Human Relations and Interpersonal Skills
It is expected that applicants should have excellent human relations and interpersonal skills. They should be able to prove examples of these. They ought be able to keep a group moving towards the achievement of a common goal, to maintain group cooperation and support, and to be able to delegate tasks and responsibilities. They must be able to interact effectively with peers, superiors and subordinates, and to express their feelings appropriately and understand those of others. They should be able to persuade and argue well, be able to make commitments, be willing to take risks and to teach a skill, concept or principle to others. They should also be able to behave appropriately in a variety of social settings and under different circumstances, and to work under the pressures of time and the work setting. Team building exercises are an excellent assessment of these types of skills. It is an advantage if applicants have knowledge of project management operations.
Critical Thinking Skills
It is quite important that applicants should be able to establish critical thinking skills. Such skills are quite important, potential examples of this include quickly and accurately identifying the salient issues when making a decision or solving a problem, be able to identify a general principle to explain related experiences or data. They should be able to define the parameters of a problem and identify reasonable criteria to assess the value or appropriateness of action or behaviour. They should be able to adapt one’s concepts and behaviour to changing conventions and norms, apply appropriate criteria to strategies and plans of action and take a given premise or reason to its conclusion. They should also be able to create innovative solutions to complex problems and analyse from several perspectives the relationships among ideas and events. Project management experience is essential when determining whether or not an applicant possesses these skills.
Management and Administrative Skills
It is an advantage if applicants can demonstrate knowledge of management and administrative tasks. Possible examples of this include analysing tasks, identifying people who can contribute to the task or solution of a problem, identifying resource materials useful to the finding of a solution, delegating responsibility to complete tasks, motivation and leadership qualities and organisation of people and tasks to achieve specific goals. Naturally, if an applicant has management experience he is likely to have satisfied the requirements in this area.
Value Setting Skills
To display value-setting skills, applicants should be able to assess a course of action in terms of its long range effects on general human welfare, make decisions that increase both the individual and common good. They should also be able to show that they can identify their own values and assess those values in the face of difficult decisions.
Personal skills are quite important when selecting a prospective applicant. There are many ways that candidates can express excellent personal skills, it is important that candidates should be able to show several examples, such as analysing and learning from their own experience and the experience of others, relating the skills learned in one place to the requirements of another and matching knowledge of one’s own characteristics and abilities with information about an employment position or career opportunity.
They should also possess other personal skills, such as being able to identify, describe and assess the relative importance of their own needs, developing their own personal goals and motivation, identify and describe skills acquired from formal education and experience, identify their strengths and weaknesses. They should be able to accept and learn from criticism, persist in the face of possible failure, for example, letting go of a project that cannot be carried out or does not merit the time and effort required to complete it. It is an advantage if they are able to confidently take risks and accept responsibility and the consequences of their actions. Once again, team-building exercises can be used to test for these types of skills.
We have shown that there are so many extensive possibilities for potential applicants to demonstrate examples of the key transferable skills we look for. However we do not expect applicants to have to demonstrate proficiency in all or even most of the skill descriptions given in the above report, merely to show a basic awareness, understanding and competence with a few examples in each of the major types of skill outlined above. However, not all competencies can be explored by interview alone. We recommend that the skills that applicants appear to possess at the interview be examined further. The chances of making good recruitment decisions is increased by adopting additional methods such as assessment centres and psychometric testing (personality tests). We can also increase the predictive power of the interview by including a short, practical work test. Giving potential managers, for example, a structured interview plus a team leadership exercise greatly increases the chance of recruiting appropriate employees.