for an employer, the most important skill from young talent is often the ability to learn

When you appear for a job interview, it is imperative to remember that the employer does not know you, and the main purpose of conducting job interviews is for employers to bridge the information gap. Employers want to know if you can add value to their businesses. Thus, they are interested in understanding if you have the necessary industrial experience and skills. But most importantly employers want to be certain that you have high ability to learn in order to adjust swiftly to the ever-changing work environment. To do this, they can look at the grades you got in school. Thus, your grades are not an end in themselves; employers need them to determine your ability to learn. Below is a discussion about why your ability to learn is important to employers and why the grades you score in school may be an important determinant of your ability to learn.

No one is perfect

Employers know that no matter how experienced you may be in a given industry; you, certainly, don’t know everything pertaining a given business or industry. They acknowledge that you will need some training to adjust to how their business runs. Thus, they are interested in understanding whether you can easily learn their unique business techniques and be productive as fast as possible. Thus, in addition to industrial experience and skills, your grades will assure employers that you can learn about their businesses and be of help to its operations as fast as possible.

All Industries are Dynamic

The high competition in the markets makes almost all industries dynamic. For instance, when cars were first developed, their novelty easily sold them. However, as more companies came into the industry; competition intensifies, and other factors such as efficiency and even safety became important features for manufacturers to survive. For companies to adjust to such changes in the market, it will need a pool of employees willing and able to learn and try new things. Thus, even if you have the necessary industrial skills that a company is looking for at a given time, the employers will still be interested in knowing whether you can learn easily, and assist their business to adjust swiftly to any industrial changes that may happen in the future.

The Future Matters

Continuity is an important issue to all businesses. Every day, all businesses fight to survive. They struggle to repel the various existential threats standing in their way. One of such threats is the depletion of human resources. Since the existing workforce is always aging, businesses need a way of replenishing it. They, therefore, hire people based on their ability to replace the experienced employees who may retire, resign, or just leave the company for whatever reason. Thus, the ability to learn is very important because it ensures that young people joining a company can effectively replace the aging workforce and secure the future of the company.

Versatility Matters

Employee’s versatility is important, particularly for small businesses. Small business wants employees that can handle a multiplicity of tasks. For instance, if you are an accountant and you have been hired to manage payrolls in a small company, you won’t be doing this all month. Thus, the company may decide to assign you other duties when you are not dealing with payrolls. Consequently, the company will be interested in knowing whether you have the ability and the willingness to learn other areas of business unrelated to payrolls. At the stage of recruitment, this can only be understood by looking at the grades you got in school.

Cost of Training and Retraining

Companies spend a lot of money training employees especially when there is a change in policy or even the market. To save to the resources dedicated to training, they need employees who can learn quickly. The assumption they make is that if you have a high ability to learn, the amount of time and money that they will spend training you will be relatively low.

The Takeaway

Overall, it is apparent the ability to learn is the most important skill that employers are looking for. Thus, in addition to the relevant industrial skills, knowledge, and experience, you need to demonstrate your ability to learn to potential employers for you to land a job. The most common method that recruiters use to get information with regards to your ability to learn is simply looking at the grades you got in school. Thus, before you can dismiss some disciplines or subjects as hard, boring, or irrelevant to your careers, remember the grades you get in school are not an end in themselves; employers will use them to assess your ability and willingness to learn. Thus, you have to do your best in all subjects the disciplines that the formal education system subjects you to.

written by Ian Larson on Sept 23rd 2017

photo by Tim Gouw from

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