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Must-Have Job Skills for Must-Avoid Jobs

Get ready for a big change. Until now, this column has focused on creative ways to avoid work. Today, we’re going to look at creative ways to get work.

But, hey, let’s not be Negative Norberts. Let’s look to the future year as a lush, organic garden of employment, out of which you will surely pluck a great new job. All you have to do is totally reinvent yourself, and that will be easy-peezy, once you adopt the “Must-Have Job Skills in 2013.”

Or, so says Ruth Mantell, whose recent article in the Wall Street Journal outlines the four skills that will be necessary “for employees who want to get ahead,” and for those who realize that “basic competency won’t be enough.”


(Try not to let this realization discourage you. You deserve credit for working so diligently for so long, in the hope that you could someday achieve your dream of basic competency.)

“Clear communications” is must-have skill No. 1, or as Holly Paul, U.S. recruiting leader at a major accounting and consulting firm, puts it, “the ability to clearly articulate your point of view and the ability to create a connection through communication.”

Basically, Ms. Paul wants to meet job seekers and “walk away from a five-minute conversation and feel their enthusiasm.” This is a very high standard. Have you ever had a five-minute conversation with a human resources professional? If you haven’t fallen asleep two minutes in, your enthusiasm level is definitely world-class.

Alas, your chit-chatting skills will not be sufficient to secure a job in 2013. You also have to write well, and that may not be so easy if you are one of the job seekers who can’t “write coherently for longer than, say, 140 characters.”

Clearly, in 2013, it will no longer be enough to coherently communicate in five characters, as in “BEER!” You will have to stretch your literary abilities to elaborate in poetic detail, as in “BEER! NOW!”

“Personal branding” is the No. 2 skill to possess. Considering your stylish wardrobe, you could say your personal brand is “Kmart,” or, considering your mental abilities, you could brand yourself “Coke Zero.” Either way, a nasty lawsuit is sure to ensue. To Meredith Haberfeld, an executive and career coach, your brand is connected directly to what you post on Facebook. Haberfeld cites the tarnished brand image an employee created when her employer read her Facebook post about “eating Chinese food and smoking ‘reefer.'”

I don’t know what’s so bad about eating Chinese food, but you might consider polishing your brand image by “eating French food, with lots of sauces.” In the meantime, please pass the reefer.

Must-have skill No. 3 is “flexibility.” That’s right — you need to learn the skill of learning new skills. This makes sense to me since jobs can change over time. Sometimes they can even disappear. But it is likely that in 2013, you will have to adjust to a whole new crop of lamebrain managers, since the lamebrain managers brought in to save the business in 2012 will certainly be fired by then. You also have to be ready for radical changes in your workday routine. What if the snack machine no longer has your favorite candy or your favorite nap spot gets discovered? Workers in 2013 must be flexible to such devastating changes. Start now by exploring for new nap spots and by stockpiling candy in your file cabinet. If you have no room, throw out your files.

“Productivity improvement” is skill No. 4, with the advisory firm, the Corporate Executive Board, reporting that “executives are looking for a 20 percent improvement in employee performance next year from current levels.” No problem! Since your productivity is currently about one percent of your capabilities, it shouldn’t be difficult to boost your performance to 21 percent, at least, when the boss is in the building.

Interestingly, even the corporate elite, the hiring managers, will have to up their game.

“The ability to spot talent and hire people has fallen out of use over the last several years,” says Ben Dattner, an organizational psychologist. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has looked at your current management team. According to Dattner, “companies have trimmed the fat, and now they have to build the muscle.”

This is very good news. All you have to do is to hang on through 2013 while the muscle-building exercise is going on. By 2014, companies will once again be looking to hire flab, and that, baby, is where you shine.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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