Personal Skills Or Experience - Which Should Employers Seek?

Years on the job or in a role don’t necessarily translate to employee effectiveness.

These factors can make a bigger difference in your day-to-day performance than how long you’ve been doing something.

Let’s look at some of these critical personal skills and attributes below.

Personal Skills Defined

First, what do ‘personal skills’ mean, anyway? One definition is how you express yourself and relate to others. Someone who doesn’t have personal skills can be challenging to deal with.

Someone with more personal skills and attributes is reliable, easy to predict, and works well with others.

Now for the critical personal skills and attributes to look for in your hires:

Emotional Intelligence

Psychology Today reports that emotional intelligence means being able to pinpoint and manage your emotions and the people around you. On the job, this means you’re able to stay calm, focused, and rational when dealing with stressful situations.

After all, the workplace can have many peaks and valleys that can be upsetting. Therefore, professionals who want to move up in management need to have plenty of emotional intelligence.

For example, if you oversee a team on a software development project, you’ll probably have people of different skill backgrounds and various temperaments. So when there are disagreements, you need to be able to keep your own emotions in check and manage the emotions of others, too.

People tend to be more drawn to individuals with high emotional intelligence. We just seem to have a more effortless rapport with them.

If you can find someone with high emotional intelligence, it could be one of the best hires you make in a long time.

Fortunately, there are resources available that can help you effectively gauge the emotional intelligence of job applicants.


Knowing how to think of unusual and non-typical solutions to unique problems can be a tremendous asset in any position. In addition, it helps to understand how to think about issues and solutions in ways that most don’t realize.

For example, many experienced upper-level managers have honed their thinking creatively by learning about other industries.

If you work in software development and have challenges with online marketing, do a few hours of research online about how experts in other industries have solved their online marketing woes.

You might discover links between your industry and the one you studied. Perhaps you can transfer some of their marketing methods to your business. And you might even be able to forge a future partnership with some of the companies you studied.


Being reliable and responsible on critical projects can make a difference in success or failure.

Dependable professionals can be relied on to handle essential project assignments with minimal supervision. But, unfortunately, they also are the ones who often show up and pull more than their weight when the going gets tough.


Employees with flexibility can work on assignments and don’t need time to shift gears. Being flexible also means changing their schedules and switching focus without impacting work quality.

Some workers are rigid in the way they work and may resist working different hours or changing focus. While these employees can be excellent fits for unchanging roles, you may want a different resource for jobs that require flexibility.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Unless a hire is working entirely by themselves, teamwork and collaboration skills are often more important than years of experience in a position.

Most work projects require some degree of collaboration, so finding potential hires who can work with others is vital.

If you have many technical skills but cannot get along well with others, this can be an issue. As a result, you may find it’s easier to hire a team player with fewer years of experience.

Some skills to look for when measuring an applicant’s teamwork ability are negotiating with others and appreciating diversity and different ways of thought. The more diverse points of view an employee is open to, the better they may get along with others.

This personal skill can be a life-saver on many complex work projects. For example, a software project could have programmers, developers, marketers, engineers, writers, graphic designers, and sales professionals.

Each of these roles brings its perspectives, biases, and personalities to the table. Working with such a diverse set of views can make the project a huge success.

One way to measure this essential attribute is to have several job applicants work together on a test project. Seeing how each team member works with others can be revealing.

Also, ask the applicant for examples of when they worked as a team on a complex project during the interview process. Ask probing questions about when they had to deal with a difficult team member or situation and how they resolved it effectively.

Positive Attitude

A positive or negative attitude can transform a workplace. So, positivity is another personal attribute that is often more important than experience. People with a positive attitude influence others with their optimism.

Someone with a positive outlook is usually resilient and can get over work setbacks.

Time Management

Managing time well is essential as employers are doing more with fewer employees. Look for signs in the hiring process that the applicant can meet daily deadlines, get the most critical tasks done first, and manage their time without direct supervision.

There’s little doubt that work experience matters a lot when searching for the best potential employees. But how many years someone has worked in an industry is often not as critical as their skills and attributes.

Finding the best job candidates for a position is easier if you can determine who has the best personal skills when you interview them. There also are proven analytical tools on the market to gauge these vital personal skills, so you don’t make a costly hiring mistake.

Recruit For Talent, Not Experience

Having the most talented employees is what makes the difference between an average business and a great one. Too many organizations recruit employees by focusing on years of experience and education.

But it’s clear that talent and skills in each prospect are what make the critical performance difference.

Contact us today to begin recruiting your team based on their talent and skills – not just experience, and read about our experiences here.


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