“I am so thankful that a friend recommended to me the services of Samantha and the team at Challenge”

Danny Chung
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Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

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What do you tell an employer when they ask you what your strengths are? Do you provide them with leadership examples from previous roles, outline key skills or educational achievements that could be valuable for the role? Do you know what skills the employer is looking for to fulfill the role?

A recent study by LinkedIn reveals that when it comes to interviewing and hiring early-career professionals, employers aren’t just considering education, experience and job skills. They are also looking for specific soft skills and personality traits — and how these characteristics rank may surprise you.

LinkedIn defines early-career professionals as those with zero to three years’ experience. Understanding these skill sets will give you a better indication of how you can be considered in today’s job market.

Specific skills
The two most important skills employers look for are problem-solving skills (65 percent) — defined as the ability to see and create solutions when faced with challenges — and being a good learner (64 percent) by learning new concepts quickly and being adaptable in new situations.

Employers also look for candidates who have strong analytical skills: 46 percent of the employers surveyed said early-career hires need to be able to use logical reasoning.

Communication skills are essential. The ability to clearly communicate ideas while speaking plays a much more important role than doing so in writing, however. The study revealed that 45 percent of employers want to hire people with strong oral communication skills, whereas only 22 percent consider strong written communication skills to be crucial.

Furthermore, creativity, the ability to think outside the box (21 percent), and being tech-savvy (16 percent) are also pluses for employers.

Personality traits
The most important personality trait employers look for in early-career professionals is the ability to collaborate. Fifty-five percent of employers put a premium on the ability to work well with others. A close runner-up was the ability to work hard, with 52 percent of employers preferring candidates who have strong work ethics and go above and beyond.

Having a positive attitude also goes a long way for 45 percent of employers, while 31 percent said being passionate by demonstrating enthusiasm for their work and the business’s values is also important.

Additionally, employers look for candidates who are organised (twenty nine percent) and resilient (twenty one percent).

Role-based skills
The types of skills employers are looking for also depends highly on the position and industry they work in. LinkedIn’s study found that hiring managers look for these specific skill sets when interviewing and hiring for sales, marketing and consulting roles:

For sales roles: Candidates should possess strong oral communication skills and a good attitude that shows optimism and maintains positive energy.
For marketing/PR roles: Creativity, passion and strong written communication skills are key to a great hire.
For consulting roles: Employers look for candidates with strong analytical and written communication skills.

Hiring managers, do you agree with the above statistics? What other skills sets are important to you when it comes to the ideal employee for your office team?


When it comes to being new at any role, you can feel apprehensive and even a little bit overwhelmed with what you need to take in during the early days of training and development. You are also in a new environment with colleagues and associates to impress and that will naturally make you nervous. However, this isn’t an ongoing feeling and there are ways you can start building your self-confidence so that you can let yourself shine in the workplace.

Jacqueline Smith from Forbes outlined ways to be more confident at work and I have chosen to outline nine key steps from this article below:

Stay focused on you. “Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.” – Paul Coelho. Remember why you are here and what it is you want to achieve and don’t let distractions get in the way of pursuing your goals.

Identify your strengths and capitalise on them. Be aware of what your strengths are and try and utilise them in your role as much as you can. By driving your best qualities, you can feel a greater sense of accomplishment and it helps you maintain engagement and stay energised. Don’t be afraid to outline these strengths with your manager. That way they can extend opportunities that will be beneficial to those skill sets when they arise.

Identify weaknesses, and work on them. With your strengths there are also weaknesses and it is important to be aware of what they are. At the same time, judging yourself harshly or wallowing in self-pity over mistakes will not help you overcome them. The purpose of identifying weaknesses is to discover ways to improve on issues for the future or avoid repeating bad habits and mistakes.

Believe in yourself. How will others start believing in you and what you are capable of if you don’t believe in yourself? While this may sound like common sense, doubt will hold you back from taking risks and pursuing opportunities. Set yourself achievable targets, mentally motivate yourself to keep moving forward and don’t be afraid to sell your personal brand to those around you in the right light.

Closely monitor your successes. Keep track of your daily accomplishments from a to-do list or in writing. It helps you keep track of what you are achieving on a daily basis and as you progress whether you feel you would like to take on more responsibilities. This is also advantageous when reviews take place by management or even once the probationary period is reached to present your written accomplishments.

Seek encouragement from others. This doesn’t mean that you are trying to seek constant praise. Ask people you trust or management to evaluate you on what your strengths and weaknesses are. You can also ask for feedback and direction on projects to see if you are meeting or exceeding expectations.

Challenge yourself. As a new employee you will not need to rush this process as you can attempt this over time with baby steps. Accomplishing new challenges can be a great way to boost your confidence. Find projects and assignments that give you an opportunity to use your strengths and projects that stretch you once you feel further established in the role. Don’t be afraid to also raise your hand if colleagues or management need assistance on tasks as it shows initiative.

Be a role model of positive attitude. By showing a positive attitude you will see how positivity will spread within your working environment. This doesn’t mean you always need to be smiling and acting cheerful. It can also be your attitude when you approach a challenging task and showing resilience at times of change. You need to be wary of how you react to situations as it can affect the outcome of assignments and relationships with colleagues or management.

Don’t let failure or setbacks take away your self-confidence. Great successors didn’t get to where they are today without failing their first attempts and sometimes second or third attempts. It can bruise our confidence a little bit when things don’t go according to plan. However, the worst thing to do about it is to shrink away, hoping it all blows over and say to yourself, ‘Well I’m never doing that again!’ Admit that you have failed at the time, assess the situation and brainstorm areas for improvement. Taking a step back to review things is sometimes the best way you can move forward.

How do you set yourself up in a new role? What are some of the struggles that you had to face and how did you overcome them?


‘A goal without an action plan is a daydream.’ – Nathaniel Branden

We have covered personal goals earlier in September, but now I would like to focus on careers, and what I liked about putting together an ‘action plan’ is that it is more than just writing down an aspiration, it is something that drives what you want to accomplish.

You may be wanting to step up in your current role or you may want to change roles (or even career paths) but regardless of where you are I hope you can benefit from some of the steps I have found beneficial in putting career goals into action.

1. My Profile – Understanding who I am and what I want to achieve

What you want to do with your career is not up to anyone else but you. As with personal passions are you in line with what you are passionate about professionally? What steps do I need to take to get to where you want in your career?

• Have you considered career guidance to reflect on your strengths, career interests and where you want to take your career next?

• Update resume and LinkedIn profile – are they all up to date and accurately represent you and the next career step you want to take?

• Audience – Who are you trying to reach out to so that you can start getting your career goals on track? Are you connecting with others through networking? Is your boss aware of what you are currently seeking or trying to achieve? Are you presenting levels of enthusiasm and reaching out for opportunities when they present themselves?

2. My Progress – Reflecting on my past achievements and what I have gained up until this stage of my career.

Let’s face it, what we have achieved or have made decisions on in the past have led us to where we are today. Whether it is training courses, networking events, recognition for hard work resulting in promotions/ publications etc.

Once you have accurately reviewed your previous achievements, ask yourself:

• What can you learn from these experiences to get you ahead?

• How can they be a benefit for you now (e.g. transferrable skills)?

• Is there anything that you need to be refreshed on?• What have you achieved recently to take you to that next step in your career?

• Are there any courses or projects that you can put your hand up for at the moment?

3. My Goals and Plans – What am I hoping to achieve and by when?

This is similar to what I have covered with personal goals. You cannot expect to complete any goal unless you write it down and put a timeframe on it.

Some people have one year, five year or even ten year goal plans. Take the time to brainstorm, set out a plan, and then for that first year break down the tasks to achievable timeframes (weekly, fortnightly, monthly, every six months etc.) Just think of it like a daily schedule that has been extended by twelve months!

It can be hard sometimes to imagine where you will end up in six months’ time let alone a year or more but having a sense of direction is the key. It’s the force that drives you even if the direction might change slightly or may not go exactly according to plan. Having written goals and plans lead you into action, and keep the list near you or in your calendar as a reminder so you don’t fall off track. It will save you from distraction. This helps me more than anything to have reminders and information written down so that I can act now and also plan ahead.

4. My Review – My continual follow up and reflection on where my career goals have taken me to move on to the next step

Managing your career means managing your progression. Once you have reached one of your goals and ticked it off your list it is important to reflect on the steps you took to achieve the goal. Established what had worked and what didn’t work so that you know what to avoid in the future.

• Have you received any valuable feedback or direction from someone along the way?

• Have any doors opened as a result of completing this goal?

• Do you need to tweak any of your remaining goals?

There can also be the case where your goals have not gone according to plan. If not handled properly it can leave you bitter and disappointed. It could even lead to you giving up on that direction all together. My advice on this point would be to make sure to evaluate all avenues before letting go of any goals. If you are not open to the prospect:

• That other doors may open as a result of this roadblock or

• Asking yourself if you could review this at a later stage (if it wasn’t the right time)

Then you could be missing out on potential opportunity. And if something is really bothering you, speak to someone you can trust – a friend, family member, a mentor or colleague. Having a second opinion can really help you make your decision.

Have you ever had a career action plan? If so, where has it taken you in your career?