Contractors working for umbrella companies or through their own limited companies might do well to take heed of some pertinent observations recently proffered by the National Computing Centre’s Head of Marketing, Michael Dean. Although he was addressing those in the IT skills market particularly, his remarks have direct relevance to most freelancers on the contractor payroll, whatever their specialism may be.
Whilst of course it’s essential to be able to demonstrate that one has the requisite formal qualifications to carry out a role, according to Mr Dean this may not be enough in many cases. Specialist expertise is undoubtedly much sought after, but in these exceptionally competitive times, when the private sector is faced with a glut of refugees from the public sector due to the government’s deficit reduction measures, “necessary” isn’t always sufficient.
Michael Dean was underlining the pivotal part quietly played by other characteristics – those aptitudes often regarded as “personality traits” and sometimes referred to as “soft-skills,” such as the ability to get along amiably with other people, the capacity for leadership, self-motivation and project-management aptitudes. Competence-based qualifications may tell prospective employers about an applicant’s formal skills, but will say very little about these extra abilities which they undoubtedly consider to be part of the recruitment picture.
Should two candidates with identical or very similar formal qualifications be competing for the same job, the likelihood is that the one who demonstrates the more advanced “personality skills” will secure the post. None of this is to suggest that formal qualifications are unimportant – the reverse scenario is most unlikely to occur. But amicability, initiative and leadership certainly don’t go unnoticed in today’s job market.