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Phoenix Forward

What do employers really want?

Employers are from Mars, and employees are from Venus — at least that’s the impression you get after reading a recent Apollo Research Institute® study comparing Phoenix-area employers’ and employees’ perceptions of the most important skills. As it turns out, employers don’t often put much weight on your social media skills, and your ability to speak a foreign language won’t get you as far as you might think.

Get a leg up on your job search — whether you’re looking for a whole new career or just moving up within your current company — by using the information below:

What do employers really want?

What's the most important skill to Phoenix employers?

  • Employers: Ability to meet deadlines - 77%
  • Employees: Ability and willingness to learn new skills - 77%

Meeting deadlines is a crucial skill. If you've developed a reputation for delivering the goods on a tight schedule, say so on your resumé or during the interview. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, PhD, vice president and managing director of Apollo Research Institute, says that delivering assignments on time is especially important when working on team projects, which require everyone to be in sync.

The lesson: Employers are most concerned with dependability.

What top three skills are crucial when hiring workers?


  1. Critical thinking and problem solving skills - 41%
  2. Ability and willingness to learn new skills - 30%
  3. Teamwork skills - 30%


  1. Ability and willingness to learn new skills - 37%
  2. Previous experience and results - 30%
  3. Critical thinking and problem solving skills - 26%

Address the desires of employers who want out-of-the-box thinking by peppering your resumé with concrete examples of your accomplishments. Wilen-Daugenti suggests statements like "launched a sales campaign that increased revenues by $20 million during difficult economic conditions."

The lesson: Your skill set and how capable you are at acquiring new skills count more than your experience.

Is workers' continuing education important to employers?

  • Employers - 40% say "very important"
  • Employees - 33% say "very important"

Your skill set may help you get your dream job, but you need to stay current if you want to keep it. "Employers tell us repeatedly about the challenges of finding qualified workers to fill open jobs," Wilen Daugenti says. "As many as 3.7 million jobs are unfilled because not enough qualified workers stand ready to fill them."

The lesson: If you want to keep working in any industry, you have to keep learning.

What's the most important factor affecting promotions?

  • Employers - Communication skills - 32%
  • Employees - Past work experience - 29%

The gift of gab is the key to moving up in a company. This seems like a no-brainer in sales, where profits are won and lost on words alone, but Wilen-Daugenti notes that, in any industry, it's the people who are most able to communicate their ideas and career goals who end up being promoted.

The lesson: When it comes to promotions, actions don't speak louder than words.

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