Looking for work today takes more than a good resume, a polished elevator pitch and some professional Tweets.
It requires a mindset of adaptability and creativity – and great communications skills. It requires thoughtful solutions and problem-solving aplenty, as well as an ability to get things done, or motivate workers to compete projects or goals.
The American Management Association identified four key traits – the 4Cs – as increasingly important to employers. They are communications, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. They are the very traits that will impress and help land your next job.
Here are four ideas on cultivating those from four posts or articles I wrote recently:
- COMMUNICATIONS. My Glassdoor.com piece on starring in a Skype interview offered nine tips for making the most of the Internet phone service. My favorite: Give a dog a bone, and get rid of other distractions just before and during the interview. The advice also included practice and practice some more. But the main message is: Learn to communicate effectively, with new tools and old ones.
- CREATIVITY. After the interview, comes the hardest part: the waiting. If you want to make those days or weeks feel more productive and less dismayingly long, read my Glassdoor.com post. Candidates can use their creativity to come up with many smart ways to stay connected and offer valuable information or assistance after the interview. Pennell Locey at Keystone Management offered a half dozen ideas to expand the interview and advance your chances. Use your creativity liberally and suggest audacious approaches and amazing ideas.
- COLLABORATION. This trait is the glue of organizations, and includes the ability to work well with much older and much younger people. My AARP Bulletin piece shows how 50-somethings can learn from the interns; yet 20-somethings also need to show their ability to work in inter-generational teams. You could show your collaborative approach by sending thank you notes after the interview, or by giving a hiring manager a hand folding up her table after the job fair. You may not be on the team yet, but you want to appear a team player.
- CRITICAL THINKING. This may mean having a deep knowledge of a subject, or it could spring from a curiosity and thoughtful inquiry. I wrote about the power of great questions for Fortune.com - and managers who use questions to engage, motivate and learn. Not only are they engaging in critical thinking in asking the right question; they are encouraging it in their team. A job seeker could use similar techniques to learn how a manager thinks or what the critical needs a client has or what opportunities or openings are likely to blossom in coming weeks. Look past the easy, obvious answers and engage your how does that change things? and what next? thinking.
Certainly, there are other ways to cultivate the 4Cs – and also my fifth one: A can-do, problem-solving approach. That upbeat attitude of action gives anyone an aura that’s appealing. So show them these five traits from the get-go – in your cover letter and in your early conversations with the HR manager. You could even come up with an example or story of success in each of these crucial Cs, which used correctly, will win you an A as a job candidate.