Curiosity Is The Hot New Skill: 5 Ways To Set Yourself Apart In Your Job Search

There are plenty of new career opportunities on the horizon and the employment market is especially hot—so it’s a great time to be looking for a new job, a new company or a new role.

According to some studies, 40% of people are thinking about leaving their current employer. In addition, research by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence showed 85% of people are unsatisfied with their current employer and 83% are ready to make a change. A study from Visier showed that in fact, 32% of people have already left jobs.

All this means that in addition to opportunity, there is also a lot of competition—so you’ll need to distinguish yourself. Highlighting your curiosity may be the way to do it, according to new research.

Curiosity Is Critical Now

If you’re looking for a great new role, managers are looking for you—and they’re struggling to find the right people. According to a recent SAS study of almost 2,000 leaders across five industries and six countries, 62% say it’s tough to find those with technical skills and 60% report they have a hard time finding those with the personal attributes they need (think: curiosity).

Curiosity is emerging as a critical trait. The impulse to seek new information, explore new experiences and discover novel possibilities is valuable in many ways, and it is gaining significant traction as a go-to capability. LinkedIn data shows posts which mention curiosity are up 71% and when there is a discussion of curiosity, engagement with those posts has increased 158% from 2020 to 2021. In addition, job postings which mention the need for curiosity have increased 90%.

According to the SAS study, managers also believe curiosity is critical with 72% reporting they believe it’s a valuable trait and 51% saying it has become more important over time. Leaders also believe it drives business impact (59%) and better performance (51%).

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Curiosity is also a trait that is relevant no matter what kind of role you have. Leaders in the SAS study believe it’s important for c-suite executives (58%), directors and department leaders (56%), mid-level managers (51%) and entry-level employees (53%).

How to Set Yourself Apart

But with all the competition for jobs, it won’t be enough to just say you’re curious, you’ll also need to connect your curiosity with your impact and the business outcomes you’ll drive. Here’s how to emphasize your curiosity in ways that matter most to hiring leaders (all the following data is from the SAS study):

  • Highlight your effectiveness. According to the study, 62% of leaders believe curiosity is associated with greater efficiency and productivity. Describe the ways your curiosity drives your desire to get better all the time, improve your methods and deliver results.  
  • Highlight your innovation. Leaders also believe curiosity is associated with creative thinking (62%), development of new solutions (62%), the ability to tackle complex problems (55%). In your interview, tell stories about how your curiosity inspires you to think in new ways and find novel solutions to problems. Give examples of where your innovative approaches have affected positive results in your previous work.
  • Highlight your teamwork. There is also a belief among 58% of managers that curiosity is related to effective collaboration and teamwork. And being a team player is always an in-demand attribute. Curiosity is linked with empathy which, in turn, is linked with positive relationships. When you’re truly curious about others, you ask questions, seek to understand their point of view and learn from them. All of these contribute to effective collaboration—you appreciate colleagues, and it contributes to bringing multiple points of view together and working effectively to deliver on shared goals. Make a case for the ways your curiosity affects the constructive relationships you build with colleagues.
  • Highlight your resilience. Leaders (56%) also see a connection between curiosity and adaptability. It makes sense that when you’re faced with new situations and ambiguity—which promise to be on the horizon for years to come—curiosity can help get you through. Wondering, inquiring and discovering new approaches contribute to the ability to reinvent and reimagine when things change. Moving into an uncertain future of work, you’ll want to share examples of how your curiosity has inspired you to make changes, adapt and flex in order to thrive.
  • Highlight your commitment. Leaders (58%) also believe curiosity is related to greater engagement and satisfaction. In addition, the data suggests when people report greater curiosity, they are more likely to be engaged and satisfied with their work compared with less curious counterparts (71% compared with 54%) and they are more likely to feel motivated to go above and beyond (70% compared with 39%). This kind of commitment, effort and engagement will set you apart. In your discussions, talk about how curiosity keeps you interested, involved and invigorated with your work—and how this drives you to demonstrate meaningful results.

In Sum

The opportunity for career growth today is significant and now is the time to find work that is inspiring and meaningful—in your current company or a new organization. The trait of curiosity may be one of the most powerful ways you can rise above other candidates. Tell stories, give examples and articulate all the ways you’re curious, creative, collaborative, effective, flexible and committed. These will drive your success toward a new job, but more importantly, they’ll drive your own happiness, motivation and satisfaction.

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