Category Archives: June 2017

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Skills series: 7 in-demand skills for developers

The skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace are evolving. This article is part of our skills series, which investigates what different roles and different departments need in order to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Developers build and maintain the backbone of your business tools, such as your website, apps, and any internal management software you may use. They make sure things run smoothly, work well, and stay virtually secure. Here are the key developer skills you should look for when hiring a programmer or web developer.

7 Key Developer Skills

Can work independently or alone

There are times your developer will have to work on a project with a team. For example, a front-end developer will need programmers with different specialties to complete an app build. Hire someone who knows how to work independently, taking initiative and clarifying where needed, as well as someone who can work in a team, coordinating, communicating, and cooperating when needed.

Understands user needs

A good developer understands why he or she is building something, and who it’s for. Understanding the purpose of the website, app, or other software they’re developing is important because it contributes to user experience. For example, if a developer must choose between different hosts for an international website, they’ll need to know what country the target audience is from to make sure a website is hosted nearby (thereby increasing site speeds for the target user).

Problem solving

Things go wrong, websites break, and businesses sometimes need a function that hasn’t been built into a software yet. Knowing how to innovate and solve problems creatively and effectively is an important trait for a developer, whose expertise and problem solving skills can make the difference between an e-commerce website going down (and losing sales) for a few hours or an entire day.

Coding language skills

The core competency of a developer lies in his or her language skills. Do you need someone who knows Ruby on Rails, PHP, Java, Python, or something else? Whatever coding language you want to build with, make sure your developer is experienced and trained in it. A good way to gauge this in the hiring process is to assign them a test task; find and fix a bug, program a function, or something else.

Time management

Development work is time consuming due to the attention to detail needed; each line of code must be reviewed and tested to make sure everything works together well. Since the nature of the job consists of time consuming projects, your developer should have a powerful grasp of time, how quickly he or she works and can complete a project, and a penchant for delivering on deadlines.


A great developer is meticulous both when it comes to doing the job right initially as well as keeping everything securely up-to-date. It may cost more time initially, but doing the job right in the first place and building a strong foundation will save time and headaches down the road.

Can teach and learn

This is important for when your developers need to teach others (especially non-developers) how something works. It’s also important for them to go out and do the research to solve problems when they run into them, learning new things along the way.

What developer skills do you look for when hiring a developer or programmer? Share in the comments below.

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Skills series: 9 in-demand skills for designers

The skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace are evolving. This article is part of our skills series, which investigates what different roles and different departments need in order to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

In this article we’ll be looking at the key skills a graphic designer needs to be successful at his or her job. These include both soft skills and technical ones, such as software and knowledge of typography.

9 Key Designer Skills


Content is usually a critical part of design. Whether it’s web design, a billboard ad, or a mobile app, the best designers will understand how different fonts play off of each other and the design, as well as how the spacing between letters and lines affect the reader. Typography is a study of multiple aspects that enhance and enable the design and its audience.


Your user interface (UI) is the side of your business your audience interacts with. User experience (UX) is your customers’ complete experience with your brand, from how well your UI works to how easy it is for your customers to figure out what they want to know. A good user experience is highly designed, because you want everything from your website to your mobile app to be intuitive and easy for your customer. Your UI and brand has to work, look great, and make sense to achieve good UX.


Designers must be detail-oriented to account for the many little mistakes that customers can make, and the many tiny misunderstandings that spiral into huge problems. An overlooked design detail can mean the difference between a happy customer and a confused would-be customer, who’s now a lost sale.

“The details are not the details. They make the design.” – Charles Eames

Information architecture

Information architecture is the design and organization of information in any brand material, but usually referring to websites and interactive media. It helps your users find the information they’re looking for, and organizes your information in a way that makes it easily searchable and intuitive to navigate. The navigation bar of a website is a good example of information architecture at work, as well as the headings and subheadings in a blog post. Good designers should be able to organize information elements in a way that makes sense to users.

Although information architecture isn’t the same as graphic design, it’s becoming an increasingly complicated and needed skill for designers and marketers alike.

Color theory

Did you know that the color blue implies trust? Color theory is the study of how color affects emotions and the best use and applications of different colors on design. It’s a complex field that a designer could spend years studying, but all good designers have a basic understanding of color theory and use.

Design software

All good artists have their tools, and graphic designers are no different. A good designer should have deep knowledge of how to use design software like Photoshop, Corel and the like. There are also a number of free tools that they can learn and utilize. Good graphic designers have a strong handle on the tools available to them, know how to use them to achieve exactly what they want, and understand which tools are best for what job.

Basic web design

This is an increasingly in-demand designer skill because almost all businesses should have a website. A graphic designer is needed to design the site using color theory, typography, a knowledge of information architecture, and more to ensure it’s visually pleasing and easy to navigate. Then, a developer builds the website, including the images and logos the graphic designer has provided, and an SEO specialist fills it with content.


Your designer needs to understand the brand and what you’re looking for from a project before he or she can deliver the best results. Good designers understand the need to communicate with their clients about a design, it’s functions, anything they don’t understand, and more to ensure a seamless project and deliverables that produce results.


For a designer, it’s sometimes tough to discard a design that they’ve worked hard on. However, there are times when inspiration and hard work isn’t enough, and a design just isn’t the right fit for a client. Instead of being stubborn and insisting that their design doesn’t need any adjustments, a great graphic designer will be able to view the design with a objective eye to see whether it needs improvement and in which areas. Their knowledge of color theory, typography, UX, and information architecture should lend them a credible voice when discussing changes.

Self-aware, if something looks bad etc why What design skills do you look for when hiring a designer? Share in the comments below.

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Skills series: 6 in-demand skills for leaders

The skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace are evolving. This article is part of our skills series, which investigates what different roles and different departments need in order to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

This article goes over the key leadership skills to look for when hiring or promoting someone to management level. We’ll discuss leadership types and priorities according to our proven executive leadership report.

6 Key Leadership Skills

Innovating Strategic Initiatives

A good leader understands the importance of taking initiative, and is able to come up with and lead innovative and strategic initiatives to further the company. This means that they take the lead on projects, proposals, and processes that are new, high-impact, and aligned with the company vision and mission.

Maximizing Resources

Making full use of your team’s time, talent, and other resources is key for good leadership. Knowing where to allot which resources for maximum returns takes strategy, an understanding of your team’s strengths and weaknesses, and knowledge of your industry and how your business works. These are all marks of an excellent leader.

Utilizing Organizational Synergies

Organizational synergy refers to the various parts of an organization acting together seamlessly.

Like the human system, the organizational system only functions optimally if all of its interdependent parts are working effectively together. Do, for example, the processes, structure, people, metrics, culture and technology come together to support the strategy of the organization?

Organizational Synergies

A good leader will be able to utilize the different ways an organization works together, bringing their teams from simple interactions to effective implementation.

Producing Quality Results

Value depends on output more than input. High-quality input usually produces high-quality output, but when it comes to leadership you want to look at results. When evaluating leaders, look at whether their teams are happy, whether they hit their targets and deadlines, whether they produce results, and how high the quality of their (and their teams’) output is.

Mentoring Others

Being a leader goes beyond simply managing others. A manager will instruct and coordinate, a leader will mentor and train. Instead of taking employees and utilizing their skills, great leaders will equip and empower their team members to ensure growth for both their employees as well as the company.

Maintaining High Personal Standards

Great leaders set a good example for their team, which means continually striving to improve and raise the bar. A good leader “leads by example,” credits their team when things go well, and shoulders the blame (to improve later on) when things go wrong.

What leadership skills do you look for when hiring for a managerial position? Share in the comments below.

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Skills series: 7 in-demand skills for sales

The skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace are evolving. This article is part of our skills series, which investigates what different roles and different departments need in order to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Here are some in-demand sales skills that will win you brownie points if you can demonstrate them in an interview or previous experience. These are also skills that HR professionals should be on the lookout for during the hiring process.

7 Key Sales Skills


Patience is a vital skill in sales because the best salespeople know how to wait on a lead. Patience means not forgetting about that email lead who might become a customer in a few months. It entails knowing how to nurture a lead instead of rushing them. You also need to be patient to provide good customer service, as, needless to say, losing your temper with a customer should be avoided.


Good speaking skills are great to have for a sales position because they’ll need to know how to think on their feet, deliver a persuasive speech, and facilitate a comfortable conversation with a potential customer. If you’re a recruiter, look for experience that would indicate healthy speaking skills like giving lectures or seminars. If you’re a job applicant who wants to gain some speaking skills, try taking an improvisation class.


Salespeople must be self-motivated, because it’s rare for a customer to fall in your lap. Good salespeople implement inbound and outbound marketing to find and close deals, and don’t waste time waiting for the perfect lead to fall into their lap. Indicators for candidates with great motivation include initiating a successful project, leading a team, and having started a business or side project.


Resilience is an important trait for sales because good salespeople aren’t discourage when a sale falls through or a long-time customer leaves. Instead, they learn from their mistakes, improve, and remain persistent with their jobs. Look for indicators of resilience in stories of success. If you’re interviewing candidates, ask them to explain a time they overcame an obstacle, or when they demonstrated resilience in the face of a difficult customer.


Sales is all about telling a story; you want consumers to understand the benefits your product or service will bring to their lives, and you do this by painting a picture. Look at the storytelling skills your candidates display in their cover letters and interviews. Ask yourself: how convincing are they? Do they bring the story to life?

Can identify customer needs

One could argue that the best salesperson can sell a motorcycle to a bird, but great salespeople shouldn’t want to do that in the first place. To be successful in sales, you need to have an understanding of who your customers are according to their needs. If someone will not find your product or service useful or a good fit, acknowledge it and don’t sell to them. Instead, a good salesperson accurately identifies a target audience for whom the product or service they’re selling would be useful and welcome.

Good communicators

Look for good communication skills, whether via email, phone, or in-person. A good salesperson should be able to interface with a client on their preferred communication channel, stay on top of their messages so they don’t keep any client waiting too long, and know how to adapt communications for different channels.

What sales skills do you look for when hiring a salesperson? Share in the comments below.

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Skills series: 6 in-demand skills for HR

The skills needed to succeed in the modern workplace are evolving. This article is part of our skills series, which investigates what different roles and different departments need in order to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Today we’re looking at the skills needed for someone to be an effective HR professional. We’ll be going through why a marketing background could work to your benefit, and the staple skills like communications and employee relations.

6 Key HR Skills

Relationship and conflict management

All good HR professionals understand how to maintain relationships and resolve conflicts in the office. They’re good mediators and can demonstrate a history of finding resolutions that suit everyone to maintain business operations. When a team, even a team of star players, doesn’t get along with each other or are too focused on arguments, work doesn’t get done as well as it could. HR pros know this and are proactive at maintaining good relationships throughout the entire company.


This may sound like a skill more important for sales professionals, but someone in HR should know how to sell a job to great candidates. Marketing comes in handy for HR because part of the job is finding the right candidates to target. Someone who understands marketing will know where to look for top performers (because they can identify a target audience), how to reach them, and how to convince them to apply and accept positions at your company.


Onboarding is no small task. Someone who knows how to design an onboarding process is able to streamline operations, refine processes, and create a consistent experience wherein a new hire learns everything he or she needs to know to succeed at the company. Having experience overseeing or implementing an onboarding process is a valuable skill for any HR pro.


Having good communication skills is important for any role, and HR is no exception. Being able to communicate well, on multiple platforms (depending on what is most suitable), is an underappreciated skill. There’s a difference between just sending an email versus sending an email that is understood and incites action.


Time management and good scheduling skills are important in HR because their role involves juggling and prioritizing interviews, events, employee evaluations, and more. They have to handle the calendars and schedules to ensure everything that needs to get done for an employee gets done on time. Often, this also includes payroll and other paperwork.

Performance evaluation

Knowing how to evaluate employee performance and ROI is critical for HR. These are the metrics and results that show you who your top performers are, who you need to put on a performance improvement plan, who is ready to take on a leadership role, who needs a bigger team under them, and more. Someone in HR should be able to accurately identify the best paths for each employee, and what movement they should take within the company based on their performance.

What HR skills do you look for in your business? Tell us in the comments below.

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