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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  • Mary P
    Mary P
    I think it,s stupid it,s all over rated. like the good old days, 8 hourswork for 8 hours if pay. I don,t have a resume only because there too damn complicated to understand, you almost have to have a bachelors Degree in englishand be a professor.
  • ANNA L
    ANNA L
    Nearly every job ad I have read in the last 8 months says "team player".  While I think teams are important for brain storming a problem, I work best when I am left alone to do my work.  This is why I enjoy home health nursing so much as well as long-term care.  Both have large quantities of time during work that require "outside the box" thinking.  When you're the sole nurse caring for 30 residents, you have to have your wits about you.  The same goes when you're out in the field seeing individual patients.Also, invariably there is someone on the "team" who can't pull or won't pull their weight and the other members get dumped on.  When I was in college, I hated group assignments.  I always thought it was a lazy way to teach!
  • Lakishia W
    Lakishia W
    Yes it's overrated,because I have filled out applications after application and no one responded to me.I have skills and qualification and it's never enough for these jobs.
  • donna h
    donna h
    I so agree.
  • Christopher H
    Christopher H
    The article is informative, but what are the new "buzzwords" for these talents?
  •  Janice G
    Janice G
    Multitasking is overrated...true! It is much better to focus well on the task at hand.  This doesn't mean that you don't tolerate interruptions, but you don't become distracted from completing the work you started.
  • Sherrill K
    Sherrill K
    I think that if the word is in the job description posting, you need to use it.  Often times the recruiter is looking for keywords and is just going off a requisition.  If they don't see those key words, your resume doesn't make the first cut.
  •  John K
    John K
    The essence of your comments is that blind adherence to checklists leads to failure. For example,teamwork is code for the ability to contribute to making solutions  when one head or pair of hands is not enough. A genius in a corner is worthless if the talent does not contribute to goal fulfillment.
  • Mike T
    Mike T
    Thank you for this article.  I am a seasoned professional who has seen his fair share of ups and downs with varied employers.  It was uplifting to read all that I have always believed in.
  • Thaddeus W
    Thaddeus W
    So true, Melissa.The late George Carlin summed it up perfectly when he said to the effect, "Most employers today want employees who are just bright enough to push the papers or push the broom.  But too dumb to ask questions, and too dumb to care...."In this ever-more unregulated business world, the most knowledgeable, capable, and productive people are increasingly shut-out all together....
  • Denise F
    Denise F
    Thank you for this article.  In an ever changing and difficult job market, we can use all the help we can get!I understand what you are saying.  Now, I want to do research to find out how to promote myself effectively.  You seem to be quite savvy.  Do  you have any recommendations on where to start - websites, worthwhile reading, etc.?Thank you!
  • Vish S
    Vish S
    Very well said - each one of these attributes has become a  buzzword that job-seekers compel themselves to use, as otherwise they feel they have not given their best.I recently interviewed and got a position I really coveted.  Had phone interviews with three evaluators and in-person meetings with three.  I spoke of my vast experience, subject-knowledge, my success and the desire to surpass myself.  I got the position and without exception all the evaluators commended me on my being articulate.  To articulate and express oneself comes with the constant practice of rehearsing one's responses and also one's inquiries as present-day job interviews are two-way discussions and should be approached as such, to exude just the right level of confidence.  A good amount of research on the prospective employer is also a tremendous plus.  The information gained from the research needs to be used judiciously without giving the impression of showing of, yet mentioned when absolutely relevant.Hope I have been able to add value.
  •  Patricia S
    Patricia S
    I love the job requirement that says "mature work ethic" and then they hire someone younger because they can pay them less....forget that the new employee needs the first really hot day off to go to the beach.  I'm not saying this is the norm, but I'm finding employers are hesitant to hire the older person whose experience may fairly dictate a higher rate of pay, and who is dependable, and regards a job as rewarding.  I do not mind teamwork or multi-tasking.  Both qualities ask for a person's ability to work with other people and also how efficient they could be should a task have to be changed. I also feel that because of the economy, most employers do not have the time to sort through a resume, read between the lines for transferable skills, when they are facing a stack of a hundred or so resumes. So short of writing "Please read me!" or appearing desperate on a cover letter, it's a challenging world ....called seeking employment.
  • Joan M
    Joan M
    You wrong except for number 4.
  • Shelly N
    Shelly N
    Great article. Sure is making me re-evaluate what I should say at an upcoming interview. Someone else made a statement about experience was sadly something not highly rated anymore. I would just like to respond to that by saying that a lot of people-myself included-have had to completely change job fields because what they did is no longer in demand. So, we are older people going up against those younger than ourselves, and still not having a lot of experience, due to the fact that we haven't been in the field very long. Experience, in my opinion is important, but so is a willingness to learn a new job.
  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for the great comments. @Gail, my point wasn't that these things aren't appreciated, just that instead of playing up how talented you are, maybe it's better to show how much practice you've had. Instead of saying that you're a hard worker, you can stress how productive and efficient you are. These are measurable things, while talent and hard work aren't.
  • Rose S
    Rose S
    You are so Right, Melissa!I think combination of the old ways with the new buzzwords/ways would be best.
  • Pamela H
    Pamela H
    Great Article!  Your comments on these "buzzwords" are spot-on.
  • Gail E
    Gail E
    I find it very sad that talent, education and experience are no longer appreciated.

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