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Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Candidate: Four non-financial skills that will help you nab a financial job

In order to secure a financial services job in Asia, you need to possess a range of critical, non-financial skills. On your CV and during interviews, make sure you show off all your abilities, not just the technical ones required for the specific role you’re applying for.

Here are the top-four soft skills I believe you must have if you want to succeed in banking, and my thoughts on how best to demonstrate them to prospective employers.

1) Communication and relationship management

Communication skills involve strong speaking, writing and presentation. It is important to communicate knowledge in a way that people understand. Communication also plays a part in marketing yourself. Building relationships and managing them is part of any role, whether you are dealing with clients, bosses or colleagues.

2) Project management

Project management skills such as time management, meeting deadlines, managing budgets and even keeping your files organised are requirements to completing a task successfully. Being disorganised or sloppy is not acceptable anywhere. Being great at project management is a big plus and it might help you to stand out among your colleagues.

3) Problem solving

Problem solving is another essential skill. It helps you think clearly and deal with issues head on, rather than buckling under pressure. It also helps build relationships if you assist your colleagues with their problems.

4) Technological skills

IT expertise makes you more efficient and productive. You can boost your career by being able to pick up new software quickly, knowing more functions in Excel, or understanding which freeware tools can assist you to work more efficiently.

Showcasing your skills

These skills may not necessarily be in the job description but hiring managers do look for them in candidates, so I think it’s important to demonstrate them in your resume and during interviews.

In your CV

You could include them in your list of achievements in previous jobs and/or in your list of training courses you have completed. One of the best ways to demonstrate your achievements is showing how you solved problems – for example if you saved money by closely managing the budget. Another example is demonstrating your people skills by describing how you built trusted relationships with clients or received great reviews from your team.

During an interview

You can use an interview to elaborate your non-financial skills. Behavioral interviews are especially good for this purpose. Examples include describing a situation where you handled a difficult client, worked under a tight deadline or introduced a new tool which helped your team work more efficiently. I believe that highlighting these softer abilities on top of your technical skills and experience will help you to standout from the competition. They make the difference between a person who has just has the qualifications and a person who can get the job done.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of eFinancialCareers. The author is a job seeker in Singapore.

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