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What Does “Required Skills” Mean Anyway?


Robby

If you’re looking for work or if you’re trying to hire someone, you’ll often come across the words “requirements.” I’d like to argue that this doesn’t really mean what you think it means.

The problem with a phrase like “job requirements” is that it may be referring to complex skills that take years to learn, or it may be talking about a passing knowledge.

Consider the different between these two job requirements: “Portuguese” and “Microsoft Word.”

Clearly, you don’t want to walk into a job interview if you don’t at least know a couple of hundred words of the language. You probably should know how to put together sentences, ask for directions, conjugate verbs, and spell phonetically. But you can be pretty rusty with Microsoft Word.

aerowold
© Flickr User aerowold

Often, what is meant by “requirements” is not so much “you must have extensive experience in this area” but rather “you must not be afraid of getting your hands dirty.”

This is particularly true of end-user software. If the Adobe creative products pop up frequently enough in jobs you want, why not download a free 30 day trial from their website and invest some time with Lynda.com or various YouTube tutorials on how to use them? Then you can apply to those jobs with confidence.

Likewise, if you’re the one writing the job descriptions, make sure you are clear as to what you mean. Once a friend encouraged me to apply for a position even though the posting required “Strong knowledge of accounting principles.” The only related interview question that I was asked was for the difference between “accounts payable” and “accounts receivable.” That doesn’t seem like “strong knowledge” to me.

When in doubt, ask. And if you can’t ask, what’s the harm in learning something new?

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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2 Responses

  1. Kristin Seed April 1 2014 @ 11:30 am

    This is a great post. There is so much free training on the web. I used WiseOwl Tutorials to get back up to speed on Microsoft SQL.

  2. robbyslaughter April 2 2014 @ 11:15 am

    That's great, Kristin! Happy to hear it.

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