Business Acumen and/or Technology Expertise?

The other day I came across an article regarding the top job skills employers are seeking for open positions. The study surveyed over 250,000 job postings in the U.S. and found the following top five skills in order of most to least important:

  1. Communications
  2. College Degree
  3. Time Management
  4. Teamwork
  5. Individual Motivation

I’m no recruiting or staffing expert, but I feel like “Problem Solving” or “Critical Thinking” should have made the list. Also of interest is the absence of technical expertise; none of the skills even hint at the necessity of basic computer skills. Sure it could be deduced that a college degree and strong communications skills means the applicant has some technical ability, basic computer skills at least, but that’s not always true given computers weren’t heavily used in school until relatively recently, considering the overall age range of current job seekers.

Does this list assume a candidate with a college degree and strong soft skills can be taught the technical skills essential to perform most jobs? It’s no secret soft skills are often difficult to teach and require dedication and practice, but across the broad spectrum of jobs in the U.S., will soft skills always outweigh technical ability?

The staff at West Monroe Partners is made up of Business Consultants and Deep Technologists; some of us are more the former than the latter, some the latter more than the former, and some of us are an uncommon blend that tend toward the middle. Equally important to an employee at West Monroe Partners displaying strong business acumen or a passion for technology are each person’s values. Our firm places emphasis on values as much as or even more than skillset. To quote our public site, “Our culture defines us at West Monroe. We’ve built our firm on the belief that when you combine personal growth, professional growth and a commitment to doing good in the world, you develop into an engaged, high performing team.” For more information on what we value at West Monroe Partners, please see Our Values page.

If you had to list the top five skills of the employees at your company, what would they be? If the list was written to represent the top five skills of someone you want to work for, what would it look like?

Phone: 312-602-4000
222 W. Adams
Chicago, IL 60606
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