Top 5 skills an employee should possess

In today’s market, it is essential for any potential employee to exhibit an array of highly valued skills and characteristics. Human Resources professionals are continuously on the lookout for workers with a combination of skills which are essential to succeeding in a complex and global workforce.

As companies expand their businesses globally, seek key talent offshore and form crucial international partnerships, Australian employees must demonstrate an understanding of the sensitive and unique situations this global market creates.

So what are the top five skills our experts believe that an employee should have?

Cultural sensitivity

Cultural intelligence is key to success, according to our experts and it correlates with demonstrating a global mindset. Patti McCarthy from Cultural Chemistry, a specialist in cross-cultural consulting, defines cultural intelligence as “an awareness of other people’s behaviours and being perceptive, observing behaviour without judging it.”

Liz Clarke, Global Mobility Manager APAC at Jacobs says: “If employees are not prepared to think and work beyond the domestic operation, opportunities for them will be minimal. It no longer matters where you are physically located as to the work you are undertaking, but having the right approach to this makes this either a success or a failure. Having a global mindset is important to ensure all are thinking holistically, understanding the interdependencies of the different business areas and sharing information, knowledge and experience across national and functional boundaries.”


Ulrike Fisher, Global Mobility Manager at CSL emphasises that we work with other cultures on a daily basis in today’s market. “While the internet is a great equaliser, when it comes to accessing clients, customers and collaborators, it can be easy to forget that there are indeed differences to consider when it comes to cultural norms, beliefs and attitudes.”

According to Clarke and Fisher, self-awareness is one of the top five skills any employee should possess. An awareness of one’s own cultural preferences is directly linked to our sensitivity to others and our acquired cultural intelligence.

“How to communicate across cultures is a skill which can be learnt,” adds McCarthy.

Excellent communication skills

 Employers see communication skills as a non-negotiable requirement for employees. Whether it be verbal, written or interpersonal communication, these skills are exercised and implemented on an hourly basis at most work places and those who excel at communicating effectively will stand themselves in good stead.

Deborah de Cerff, founder of The Employee Mobility Institute, believes that “in addition to effective communication skills , employee’s need to be proficient in and committed to building relationships with both internal and external stakeholders if they are to effectively implement change or create successful international partnerships.”

Flexibility and adaptability

In a constantly changing and often unpredictable global market, flexibility and adaptability are key skills for an employee to develop. Challenges arise and an employee who is able to quickly respond, adapt his or her reactions and plan a new effective course of action is an employee who is highly valued by the organisation.

According to Liz Clarke: “Having an awareness of the business from a global and organisation perspective and how it interlinks is an important aspect of global mindset. However to make use of this understanding being culturally sensitive and able to adapt as required are important capabilities that form the basis of having a global mindset.”


In a competitive and unstable market, it is still a vital skill to be humble. A typically Australian trait, humility should not be mistaken for shyness. It is simply an unpretentious and modest attitude to one’s work and colleagues, taking pride in one’s work without demonstrating arrogance.

Employers are seeking a cohesive and effective workplace; people who denigrate others, take credit for work which is not their own or are disrespectful, are quickly noticed, for all the wrong reasons. Humility goes a long way in the Australian workplace.

Thank you to our experts:

Liz Clarke, Global Mobility Manager APAC at Jacobs

Ulrike Fisher, Global Mobility Manager at CSL

Deborah de Cerff, CEO & Founder, The Employee Mobility Institute

Patti McCarthy, Cultural Chemistry Cross-cultural Consulting and Expatriate Coaching

Lana Lachyani

Lana Lachyani

Freelance Writer, The Employee Mobility Institute
Tel:+61 434 842 255


Lana Lachyani is a Melbourne-based Freelance Writer and Communications Consultant. Lana lived overseas for several years, working across Europe and the Middle East before returning to Australia in 2012.

By |2017-01-19T20:22:49+11:00May 20th, 2016|Cultural Diversity, Global Mobility Training, Mobility, Skills|0 Comments

About the Author:

The Employee Mobility Institute is Australia’s peak industry body specifically focused on global workforce management, including talent mobility. Its mission is to advocate, promote, represent and support the growth of the Australian / New Zealand Talent Mobility Industry.

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