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Mind the skills gap: Brits' lack of understanding is hurting job prospects

Michael Page launches new Skills Checker tool to help workers with job search concerns

New research released today reveals Brits are being held back in their careers by not having an understanding of the skills they need to progress. Global recruitment specialist Michael Page surveyed 1,203 workers to get their views on the job application process and found over a third (36 per cent) have held back from applying for a new job because they didn’t understand which skills were required for the role.

The survey revealed the extent of the confusion experienced by workers when it comes to knowing which skills they need to show off in job applications and interviews. Almost half (46 per cent) of respondents stated they find it hard to know which skills to focus on, or talk about, in job applications and during interviews while almost one in 10 (eight per cent) wouldn’t check, or wouldn’t know how to check, which skills were required for a job role.

This knowledge gap around skills has resulted in a lack of confidence amongst job seekers. According to the research, more than a third of workers (36 per cent) don’t think they would stand out in an interview based on the skills they have, while almost half (46 per cent) have actually left an interview worried about how they performed.

With job seekers needing a confidence boost, experts advise that candidates need to first identify and appreciate their skills before they can assertively convey them in language employers find convincing and exciting. John Lees, career strategist and author of How to Get a Job You Love, commented: “These findings demonstrate the need for candidates to not only understand which skills they currently possess, but also be able to do two things: match these skills to the needs of organisations, and talk confidently about them at interview.”

In light of this confusion Michael Page has developed the Skills Checker, an online tool which allows both employers and potential employees to search job roles and find out which skills are required. Advising on mandatory qualifications, technical competencies and personality attributes, the Skills Checker aims to help job applicants get ahead of the game.

“We hope our Skills Checker tool will help job seekers better understand the skills needed to take the next step in their careers and feel more confident discussing them to help get their dream job,” said Nicholas Kirk, UK Managing Director at Michael Page. “And it isn’t just job seekers that need to rethink how they approach skills; it’s clear businesses could be doing more to clarify the skills required for a role. Employers are potentially missing out on talent as a result of unclear job listings and must ensure they’re hiring in the most efficient way by listing the specific skills needed for each role.”

To help job seekers who may be feeling overwhelmed by the job search process, John Lees has the following advice:

  • Think about the employer ‘shopping list’. Do your research to work out the skills and experience employers are looking for - don’t just rely on job ads and descriptions. If you want to understand the skills employers are looking for in specific roles, why not use the Michael Page Skills Checker
  • Speak the employer’s language. Match who you are and what you do to the employer’s needs. Reflect that in the language of the hiring organisation; skills only become transferable when you express them in a way an organisation finds exciting
  • Target your message. Work out which organisations are a good fit for you, understand the skills, qualities and experience they value in top performers, and tailor your application accordingly
  • Learn to talk about your abilities confidently. Spend time learning how to talk confidently about your career history, your strengths, and areas you want to develop. Practise delivering short, positive stories about where you’ve performed at your best
  • Plan for interview success. Don’t use live interviews as rehearsals – prepare, plan, and perform at your best. Spot the top five items on the employer’s wish list and align yourself to them. Decide on a handful of key messages you want to get across, and don’t leave the interview room until you do!

The newly launched Skills Checker tool can be found here: www.michaelpage.co.uk/minisite/skills-checker.