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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  • Porshia B
    Porshia B
    I possess the qualities here except for talent. When im hired into a job, I get frustrated at times when I learn someone who is working at the same job description as me gets promoted or a raise. It never adds up when this person is lazy and slacks and does not produce what is asked. Yet I get no recognition for the hard work I give and all the slack I pick up from the lazy ones. Its not fair and it makes me want to become ”slacker” at work. Its like slackers are the employees employers want.
  • Alvaro N
    Alvaro N
    Talent is not overrated, Colvin's book not withstanding. Very smart people can master some skill that they are not suited for,possibly at the cost of their happiness and the company's detriment in the long run.Also, real talent is the 10,000 hours strong multiplier.There is the story of the 5'6" basketball player. Trained for years, tried out like mad. Finally chosen. Got to play in the finals' few minutes, when the game had already been decided. Little pay off for all that work.
  • J.W. N
    J.W. N
    I was with you til the lazy thing.When we start quoting Bill Gates about ANYTHING other than amassing vast quantities of money for less than valid products, we have a problem.  the rest of the article is great.
  • P.K
    What you said is right , multi tasking is one who have the capable to do multi jobs , but now a days it what goes like what you said in the Multitasking
  • Emmanuel S
    Emmanuel S
    To say you have those qualities;To really have them;And when you have them, to have a properly work environment to use them are 3 different things
  •  Linda C
    Linda C
    I am not a good multi-tasker so I found this article very interesting. I always thought you could accomplish more by doing one thing at a time.
  • Salim s
    Salim s
    i like what bill gates has been quoted as saying, as is a nod to a chosen modus operandi. another one i've tried to live by is "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission"
  • vinton c
    vinton c
    50 years ago things were different. What's happening today is basic destruction due to a few foolish elite who are seriously hurting qualified,hard working and loyal individuals in this country. I live in Jersey now & things are more regressive due to our governor. Yes, politics  play   a major force in the U.S.
  • Martin B
    Martin B
    I completely agree with the Multitasking item.  It seems to be a litmus test in some organizations, but as a manager, I'd much rather have my staff do one thing at a time.  This isn't always possible, but the way many seek candidates who can multitask makes multitasking something to be sought.  It isn't - it is something to do when required, but avoided otherwise.Hard work is more problematic.  I'd agree with "unthinking hard work" - but someone who works hard at their job so that they can be more "lazy" ultimately is good.  My experience with lazy workers is that they spend more time finding ways not to do work ("excuses") than actually doing work.I agree regarding talent, although if that were replaced with "aptitude" and "attitude" - I wouldn't.  I'd rather have someone who is willing to learn, and capable of learning, than any amount of "talent."  If talent is being equated with "aptitude" - then the only missing ingredient is "attitude."Teamwork depends on what the person is being hired for.  Large projects will require some degree of teamwork, but for many situations, teamwork is listed as required, or sought, but never truly used.  I think that regarding teamwork, a more nuanced approach is required.All in all, however, I think that this is a good article.  And I believe that the "multitasking" part of it is absolutely correct.
  • James P. R
    James P. R
    Teamwork and coomunication are essential in business. Without it, interdepartmental silos are built and efficiency is held to a standstill. Talent is important, but does need to be tempered with experience. Multitasking is a fictitious buzzword - the human brain simply cannot multitask - it can however switch between tasks at a rapid pace - the trick is to be able to apply critical path analysis to all tasks and remember where you left off when returning to a task. Hard work is necessary - I am a hard worker who spends extra hours to find efficiencies to ease the future workload of my entire team. A person who is willing to work extra hours in order to see the light at the end of the tunnel is quite valuable.
  • Russell B
    Russell B
    nice piece except multitasking. multi computers can humans cannot. we still do things one task after another or did multi take on another defination
  • Sharon H
    Sharon H
    Teamwork: I worked for a boss who constantly used "Teamwork" meant only to benefit the company, often to the detriment of the employees. We employees, however knew the definition without using the word by working together & helping one another out when needed. Teamwork s/b a win win situation w/ compromises given & received on all sides.Multitasking is often necessary in certain positions, and can just mean the ability of being interrupted from one task to attend to a more pressing matter, and then being able to return to that task or on to another pressing matter. Some people aren't able to do that.Hard Work doesn't mean that you work harder. I am a hard worker, but I don't want to reinvent the wheel. So, I try to find the simplest way to solve a problem.
  • ERIC F
    ERIC F
  • Alan R. B
    Alan R. B
    Teamwork?  Depends on the job.  Multitasking?  The closest to that that anyone can do is not forget which jobs still need to be done.  Hard work?  No one will claim to be lazy, but since I'm looking for a part-time job, my cover letter says that I will work diligently during working hours, while my resume tells how I volunteered to take on work and how I made other work more efficient.
  • May F
    May F
    I very much appreciate your advice and insight thanks
  • Jon J
    Jon J
    this is an article that never says what is important to get a position? it never answers the implied question of what an employer is looking for.
  • Geena O
    Geena O
    My view is that the skills mentioned in article is very subjective. If the role demands it, then Teamwork, Multi-tasking and Hardwork are important indeed. Well, Talent is a whole another game. I agree on that bit, Practice makes perfect and there is nothing impossible for the willing mind!
  • Michael W
    Michael W
    Hi Melissia:I am the Newsletter editor for the New Haven County Association of Paralegals and I would like to reprint this article in our newsletter.  May I have your permission to do so?ThanksMichael
  • Michael S
    Michael S
    IF these qualities are requirements for employment, how can one show them on a resume?Most people work in the lone ranger mode as it makes t it much easier to get thing accomplished. I agree with that statement .
  • Marilyn W
    Marilyn W
    Teamwork is important so is multitasking it depends on your job.if you don't want to work with people own your own business.if you have a job where all you do is one task for 1 hour you job is boring I respect you to the fullest
  • MaryD
    But all job employers seem to want people that are team players, multitaskires, hard working and of course, can do the job.  And the employer can be LAZY as in they don't really train well.
  • Matthew C
    Matthew C
    Having a Bachelors degree is very over rated.Please find a college that teaches how to dress for success, how to close deals, how to interact with Level C decision makers, how to make eye contact, how to ask for the business, all of which are crucial to revenue generation and sustainability.
  • David C
    David C
    I believe that asking a person "what year they graduated from High School is a way for Employers to determine the age of the applicant; serves no "lawful purpose" and allows the Employer to discriminate by age. This question should not be allowed.
  • James A
    James A
    Sensible Observations !
  • adekemi r
    adekemi r
    Nice piece. However I ll differ on the Teamwork. I believe it plays an important aspect if an organisation is looking at getting the beSt out of an employee. Some people work best alone and including them in teams will only be counter productive.

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