Job Success Talents

“In creating, the only hard thing’s to begin; a grass-blade’s no easier to make than an oak.”

- James Russell Lowell

Job Success Talents are the skills and strengths that a person needs to have or develop to do a job well. Perhaps you are wondering “what’s the difference between skills and strengths” but it is really fairly simple. I think that the best description of the real difference between skills and strengths is provided in the book Don’t Retire, REWIRE! written by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners on how to find fulfilling work after retirement. They focus on identifying your skills and strengths to help you find the right opportunity that matches them and you. They offer that the difference is this. “The most practical and useful way to look at it is that strengths are innate and skills are learned. Strengths are what you have to work with; skills are what you develop.”

“Innate” means talents that you have from birth or that are native to you. You can’t learn them but you can improve them with training and practice. An example of a strength could be being “self-motivated” while an example of a skill might be “oral or written communication skills.”

Here’s a collection of strengths (again you are born with these) that I’ve used over the years:

Ability to Learn, Adaptability, Ambitious, Analytical, Attention to Detail, Caring, Confident, Controlled Demeanor, Creativity, Decisiveness, Determined, Direct, Energy, Ethical, Fair/Open- Minded, Flexibility, Friendly, Goal Oriented, Hard Working, Honest, Logical, Initiative, Innovation, Integrity, Leadership, Motivation, Patient, Persistent, Resilience, Results Oriented, Self-Development, Self-Motivated, Self-Organization, Sensitivity, Team Player, Tenacity, Thoughtful and Trustworthy.

Here’s a collection of skills (again you learn these) that I’ve used over the years:

Adapting, Analysis, Consensus Building, Counseling, Critiquing, Decision Making, Delegation, Empowering, Hardware Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Judgement, Leading, Listening, Managing People, Management of Meetings, Mediating, Mentoring, Motivating Others, Negotiation, Oral Communications, Oral Presentation Skills, Persuasiveness, Planning and Organization, Prioritizing, Problem Solving, Project Management, Research, Scheduling, Socializing, Software Skills, Strategizing, Stress Tolerance, Teaching, Team Building, Thinking, Training, Work Standards and Written Communications.

Again, for the most complete list of “strengths” and “skills” that I’ve ever found I would refer you to Don’t Retire, REWIRE!

Please note that not all job positions have the same needed Job Success Talents, and not all job positions need the same level of Job Success Talents. For example, everyone needs to be able to write, but a professional writer needs to have a very high level of writing talent, while a graphic designer can function very effectively with a lower level of writing talent. I’ve worked with organizations that use “expectation ratings” for Job Success Talents. For example, “essential or must have,” “nice to have” and “needed but not essential.” Using these ratings can help when comparing candidates.

Developing the Job Success Talents for all of your Teamers is not easy and it will take some time. But how can you hope to recruit new Teamers without knowing what Job Success Talents each position requires?

I suggest that you ask your Teamers for help in developing the Job Success Talents for each of the jobs in your team. You should write a “draft” list of Job Success Talents for each job position and then have your Teamers review them and make suggestions for additions and changes.

Once you and your Teamers have agreed to the Job Success Talents for each job position within your team(s) you are ready to start using them during recruiting, job postings, candidate interviews and Teamer performance reviews and they should be a part of these documents:

  • The Job Description - The Job Success Talents should actually dictate the content of the Responsibilities and Qualifications sections.
  • The Candidate for Employment Evaluation Form used during team interviews with targeted questions to probe for evidence that a candidate actually has the Job Success Talents that you are looking for.
  • The Performance Review Form where you rate a Teamer’s performance on their predefined Job Success Talents.

During your recruiting interviews don’t waste valuable time asking “generic” and really“meaningless” questions like “why are you interested in joining our organization?” or “what do you feel that you can provide to help our organization?” During candidate interviews always ask targeted questions to determine if the candidate really has the Job Success Talents that you need. For example, if you need a person with great “oral presentation skills” ask them “what’s the best (or worst) presentation that they’ve ever done and why?” If you need someone who can handle stress ask them “how do you deal with stress?” If the person you need must be able to solve problems, ask them “what’s the biggest problem that you’ve solved?” Get the idea? A resume tells you what the candidate wants you to know about them, but you need to ask the right questions during the interview to get a better idea if they really have the necessary Job Success Talents.

The following is a list of potential Job Success Talents and a matching question or two that I developed for a technical writer Job Description years ago. These are only sample talents and questions to help you start writing your own interview questions for you and your Teamers to use. As you develop questions you will also need to focus on your business and discipline to create the best Job Success Talents and interview questions for you and your Teamers.

Ability to Learn – What’s the most difficult “learning” project that you’ve completed recently and why?

Adaptability – How do you deal with change?

Attention to Detail – What’s the biggest “mistake” that you’ve found and what did you do with this information?

Creativity – What’s the most creative “thing” that you’ve done recently?

Decisiveness – How do you make decisions?

Delegation – How do you assign projects to your team?

Energy – How do you organize your day and why?

Flexibility – What do you do to overcome “problems” that occur during your efforts on projects assigned to you?

Initiative – What have you done recently to make your job easier or your team work together better?

Integrity – Give me an example of when you’ve had to “bend” a rule to ensure the success of a team project?

Judgement – Give me an example of a good decision that you’ve made recently and why?

Leadership – Tell me about a project that you’ve recently done that highlights your leadership skills?

Listening – How do you make the person you are talking with feel like you actually hear what they are saying?

Motivation – What “things” motivate you and why?

Oral Communications – What’s the best team communication situation that you’ve experienced and why?

Oral Presentation Skills – What’s the best and/or worst presentation that you’ve ever done and why?

Persuasiveness – What’s the best idea that you’ve “sold” to your boss and why?

Planning and Organization – What’s the biggest/most complicated project that you’ve done and why?

Problem Solving – How do you develop the scope of a project?

Resilience – How do you feel when your “idea” is rejected by the team and what do you do about it?

Sensitivity – What do you do when you “find” a problem that needs to be addressed within your team?

Stress Tolerance – What do you do to deal with stress?

Tenacity – What’s the biggest problem that you’ve had to address in a “I just can’t quit” style?

Work Standards – What do you think of as “work standards” and why?

Written Communications – What’s the best and/or worst communication that you’ve written and why?

Lastly, during the interview always encourage the candidate to feel free to respond to your questions with answers from their work life as well as their personal life, that is church, clubs, school and other life experiences. People often demonstrate a talent outside of their “daily work world” that could prove of interest.

“We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them.”

 – William Arthur Ward