Reality Check: The Employability Skill of Getting Along

Employability skills are the skills that help you get and keep a job. You might have thought that the technical skills that enable you to do your specific job are all you need in the way of employability skills.
For example, if you work in retail, you need to run a cash register. If you work in medical technology, you need to analyze samples. And if you are a pilot, it’s good to understand your instrumentation!
However, while job-specific skills are essential, there’s an additional set of skills that’s needed by pretty much anyone who wants to remain gainfully employed.
While sometimes referred to as “soft” skills, there is nothing soft about them.

This was re-emphasized for me recently in an interview with an employer. Among the skills that this employer wants in their employees is the ability to get along with people—even if they are different from you and even if you don’t particularly like them. This is sometimes referred to as “teamwork,” and it’s absolutely essential.
For even if you are the most highly-skilled pilot, technologist, or cashier, if you can’t get along with people, your employment prospects and advancement opportunities are severely limited.
Now before you go putting on your resume that you’re “a team-player,” take a moment to ask yourself: Is it really true? Do you, in fact, work well with others? Or do you just work well with others who have similar backgrounds to yours, or who look like you, or who agree with you?
You might think that you can avoid the “getting along” requirement if you choose a job where you can work by yourself. Really? While some workplaces may require very little interaction, there aren’t too many options available for people who don’t want to deal with anybody!
Even the self-employed, although not working for a boss, instead have the joy of working for many and varied customers (providing the business is thriving.) Undoubtedly, some customers will not be easy to get along with.
While I’m more enthusiastic about people developing relationships where they actually like each other, sometimes there is a need to simply get along. Often, that need arises in the workplace.
Maybe you don’t approve of the other person, don’t agree with them, or just don’t like the look of their face. But you still need to cooperate and do your job without chaos or drama.
From my experience, nobody likes everybody! However, successful folks work out ways to get along with a variety of people so they can work together to accomplish an end result. This skill will not only make you more employable, but it will make your work and your personal life more satisfying.
Getting along doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If this skill doesn’t come easily to you, be aware that you can learn it! Next time, I’ll offer some suggestions for how to develop your “getting along” skill.
What’s your experience with getting along at work? Do you think this skill is as important as I’ve suggested that it is? How have you gotten along with difficult people?

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