Four Job Qualifications You Don't Really Need

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Whether you're a job seeker looking for a great job, or an employer looking for the best employees, the odds are good that you have a list of skills and abilities that are important. Employers might interview applicants in order to determine if they have these skills and applicants are likely to try to play up these same skills. But, what if I told you that many of these qualities are overrated and are not actually as important as we've all been taught to believe?


Common wisdom says that a great employee is someone who is hard working, dependable and a good team player, and who also possesses the ability to multitask. However, actual research shows that these skills don't actually mean that someone will be successful at a particular job.


Here are four job qualification everyone thinks are important, and why they aren't:


Teamwork – Many companies want to find out if an applicant is able to work well with a team. For some reason, teamwork has become a buzzword and if someone isn't a team player, it's likely to be a serious black mark on their candidacy. The problem is that most research shows that teamwork is not an accurate measure of an employees ability and there are many, extremely skilled, people who do their best work independently. What's more, in most cases teamwork isn't the best way to get things done.


Talent – Take a quick look through a couple of pages of job listings, and you'll see that an overwhelming majority of the job descriptions are looking for talented employees – even the entry level job postings. The problem is that talent doesn't really have much to do with success. In the book, “Talent is Overrated”, the author, Geoff Colvin states that what makes the difference is determination and practice. He says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice for anyone to become an expert at something. Sure, talent might help you stick with the practice, but it's the actual work of doing something that makes you the best at it.


Multitasking – Many job listings ask for applicants who are able to multitask many different types of responsibilities. Personally, I think that the word has become a form of shorthand to mean that the responsibilities of the job will be varied and rapidly changing. However, there is still a common belief that multitaskers are more productive and harder working than those who do one task as at a time. Recent research shows that multitasking is bad for our brains and doesn't actually improve productivity. The employees who do one thing at a time tend to be far more focused and productive than those who attempt to do several at once.


Hard work – Everyone wants to hire someone who isn't afraid of working hard. In fact, most job seekers start their elevator pitch with the claim of being a hard worker. Even though the old saying claims that it's better to “work smarter, not harder,” many of us still don't believe it. A person who is willing to work long hours may not be the same person who will look at a task and try to find the most efficient way of getting it done. Bill Gates has been quoted as saying, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will always find an easy way to do it.” When you think about it, most of the progress humans have made, from the wheel to the remote control to the modern smart phone, was a direct result of a lazy person trying to find an easier way to get things done.


There are many skills that make an applicant a good fit for the job. Instead of getting hung up on these overrated qualities, why not come up with a new list that more accurately describes the ideal candidate?


Have you ever looked for or claimed to have one of these skills? Do you think they are overrated? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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  • Timothy M
    Timothy M
    These are quintessential traits applicable and necessary to every person for every job. However they are typical and understood therefore a person should illustrate more clearly that not only are those obvious prerequisites filled but how valuable their personal acumen is to others and what they can bring to the table that is enhancing the total work environment.
    WOW!  I was going to delete this and am glad I did not!Makes total sense to me (all four).
  • Mark S
    Mark S
    Recent experience with Oregon's Job Council screening for a job as an archaeological technician revealed their template of related occupational skills is woefully inadequate.
    Thank you. Finally someone is saying something I have been saying for such a long time. I work best when working alone although I am a team player when needed. I can multitask but my brain hurts when I am given different jobs to do and expected to do them quickly and without errors. I am talented and hardworker but spend too much time working and not enough time to take a breather. I believe everyone should be given a chance because they prove they can be that person instead of putting up a big act at the interview. Thanks again.
  • Steven H
    Steven H
    In congress, the old adage is that if you have a bill that you never again want to see the light of day, put it into committee.  Teamwork is very over rated.  I believe there is a time for it, and a time to ignore it.  Some of the most earth shattering moments have been by individuals working alone.
  • Demetrious W
    Demetrious W
    I think it's very overrated because most people who are hired do not show or possess any of these traits at all. Those who do are mostly looked over.
  • Paulette M
    Paulette M
    Multi-tasking is what is expected when you have multiple demands at the same time, oftentimes with very close deadlines to boot, which makes one responsible for determining what order of priority needs to be applied to each. We all do this! I recently took a Caliper test for a job that I am fully qualified to do. I know that I am fully qualified because I am a natural leader and every job that I have had in the industry which I have been in for 34 years, I have worked independently and coached others along. I have been told by colleagues and bosses alike that I am the best (at what we do) in the department. The Caliper Test results said that I was not cut out for the particular job that I have been doing successfully for the past 12 years. I believe that the Caliper Test is for the birds eventhough I have aced it a few times already! I refuse to ever take another one! Back to college I go at age 57. Trying my hand at Psychology.
  • Kelly O
    Kelly O
  • Evelyne O
    Evelyne O
    As a health care professional for decades, i have always believed in team work, as it works well for our settings. Also multitask is of essence because of the way the needs of our clients varies. It enables one person to meet the various needs of individuals at the same time in the same place, and it brings trust and  between the worker and the client.
  • Susan H
    Susan H
    Spot on~
  • Greg T
    Greg T
    I have found over the past decades that the more things I try to do at the same time the longer it takes to get them done accurately and efficiently. Another thing that irks me is that if you don't have a BA degree you can't get your foot in the door. And even though age discrimination is illegal it is easily circumvented.
  • Teresa M
    Teresa M
    I do not particularly care for the"are you a team player" inquiry at all. First of all, I'm not at work to play like it's a sport, and the jobs that I have had, that "team player" was such an important part of being there, had nothing to do with teamwork for everyone. The so called team players were out for themselves, which leaves a few that actually work together, who would probably rather work by themselves as well. The so called team players who can do whatever they want individually or with a few chosen team players, break free of the team, do what they want, when & how they want, leave everyone else out of the picture and somehow get all the Glory of being "team players." Then everyone else who is actually trying to work together, are said to not be "team players." I think that independent working is great, and working with others, can be beneficial as well, the right people with the right job, but get rid of the "team player label, when it doesn't count, only for name calling and uncalled for abuse in the work place, where adults work and lead, however you would swear that you were in high school again!   I cringe at that question...because you know what they want to hear.
  • Roy S.
    Roy S.
    This is all well and good. But the truth of the matter is it doesn't really matter what you know.  It mattters most WHO you know.  I see rank incompetence rewarded frequently with pay raises and promotions, while hard work and conscientousness just gets more responsibility and more work heaped on with no reward.
  • Larry C
    Larry C
    Found the article very interesting and enlightening. I feel better about the way I go about doing my job now.
  • David N
    David N
    I work in the Human Services industry. I am a Direct Support  professional and teamwork is a big focus for the company I work for. Besides doing direct  care I am also am required to do all paperwork, personal care, dining, and much more, in short multitask. Great article! I am in total agreement.
  •  Ventris B
    Ventris B
    When I think of team work, I would think it would mean, whenever there is an overflow of work in any area, that others are willing to pitch in, in an effort to meet a deadline, but we can't be successful if everything is done in a team, then there is no one to claim responsibility for any short coming on the project.I agree talent alone will not get the job done, some talented people actually like to pass the buck, while a good worker will actually do the job.Other than being bad for our brain, you cannot focus on what you are doing, therefore it is an inefficient way to work.People who are always looking for the most time saving and efficient way to complete a project, will actually accomplish more than the hard worker, maybe instead of hard worker, the term dedicated worker would be more accurate.
  • Vladimir P
    Vladimir P
    Talent and practice are unrelated. You can practice something forever and still be mediocre. I refer to "talent" as it relates to Creatives, of course. Someone that is tone-deaf will NEVER become a good singer (case in point - Florence Foster Jenkins). But I agree with Bill Gates - I AM lazy; and I've always said "I don't work hard ... I work SMART!"
  • Rajendra S
    Rajendra S
    As related literature will be available from internet a talented person may do  most of the job smoothly like a qualified person.
  • Linda D
    Linda D
    Melissa, you hit the nail on the head. I especially cringe when I hear the phrase, "There's no I in TEAM." Correct, but there's a ME. Teamwork is great when there's a tight deadline that requires many hands to complete on-time. However, I have witnessed poor project management due to an over-emphasis on teamwork. There's typically an overlap on certain tasks while others are ignored. Multitasking is usually done by procrastinators that didn't make enough time to complete the task. When it comes to talent though, it depends on the position. For graphic design, I would hire a person that has talent over a person that has none, but knows how to use a software program. I can always teach them how to use the program; I cannot teach them how to be creative. That's something you're born with.
  • Tim J
    Tim J
    While I agree with virtually everything in this article, the problem, as I see it, is that the world is populated with hiring managers who live in a very short sighted paradigm. They are so busy rummaging around in a person's private life, parts that have nothing to do with their applications, that they wouldn't recognize a great candidate if he were standing in front of them. If he's not squeaky clean or if he is older than 35, he's not qualified. I like to work hard at a job to make it so I don't have to work hard.
  • Darrell E
    Darrell E
    I love you. I have been staying this for years why are is there not a better way to fit a person for a job? Maybe we should rethink the way this is.
  • Pearlie W
    Pearlie W
    Very interesting; it does make a lot of sense once you think about it.
  • Marc P
    Marc P
    Thank You!  I have long maintained that the concept of multitasking is fraudulent.
  • JAN S
    JAN S
    I definitely agree with the opinion that such "skills" are overrated.  Especially "multitasking."  It has always been my feeling that such activity causes more wasted, frenetic activity than it does beneficial productivity!
  • Ralph S
    Ralph S
    Teamwork - Depends on the jobTalent-Give me common sense and effortMultitasking-One task at a timeHard work - give me smart work

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