I’m a Recruiter: 13 Uncommon Skills That Make Job Applicants Stand Out

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Competition for the best jobs can get intense. Even if you’re a talented candidate with a lot to offer, you’re vying against other job seekers who also have impressive credentials.

To stand out from the crowd, you likely need at least one uncommon skill that solidifies you as the best person for the job. For more insight on this, we reached out to Brandon DiCroce, head of fintech engineering search at EC1 Partners, and Jaune’ Little, director of recruiting services at Insperity. According to them, here are 13 exceptional abilities hiring managers are looking for right now.

Design Thinking

“Candidates who possess a deep understanding of design thinking can bring a fresh perspective to problem-solving and innovation in any industry,” said DiCroce. “The ability to empathize, think critically and propose innovative solutions sets these individuals apart by fostering a culture of continuous improvement within organizations.”

Cognitive Flexibility

Living in the era of rapid technological advancements and ever-changing business landscapes has made cognitive flexibility a highly valued skill, DiCroce added.

“Candidates who exhibit cognitive flexibility can seamlessly adapt their thinking and approach to tackling complex challenges,” he said. “Their capacity to absorb new information, pivot their strategies and embrace uncertainty enables them to navigate uncharted territory, making them invaluable assets to organizations seeking growth and resilience.”

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Systems Thinking

Modern organizations operate within intricate and interconnected systems.

“Candidates who possess a keen understanding of systems thinking can analyze the interdependencies within these systems, identify potential bottlenecks and propose holistic solutions,” he said. “Their ability to see the bigger picture, while considering the smallest details, allows them to optimize processes, drive efficiency and ultimately create sustainable value for businesses.”

Cultural Intelligence

“In our increasingly globalized world, candidates with strong cultural intelligence possess a unique advantage,” DiCroce said. “This skill goes beyond linguistic proficiency or international experience.”

Instead, he said companies are looking for individuals who can offer a lot more.

“Cultural intelligence involves an individual’s ability to navigate diverse cultural contexts, empathize with others’ perspectives and effectively communicate and collaborate across cultural boundaries. Such candidates bring an inclusive and global mindset, which is critical for success in today’s multicultural work environments.”

Digital Ethnography

Now that the digital landscape has become an integral part of our lives, DiCroce said candidates who possess skills in digital ethnography have valuable insights to offer.

“Digital ethnography involves analyzing online communities, behaviors and trends to uncover deep-seated consumer insights,” he said. “Candidates who are adept at leveraging digital platforms and extracting meaningful data can contribute to strategic decision-making, customer-centric product development and targeted marketing efforts.”

Understanding of Artificial Intelligence

If you’re an authority on AI, Jaune’ Little said this can give you a competitive edge.

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“AI is becoming increasingly important in the modern workplace and job applicants who demonstrate knowledge of the field and how to apply this technology can be invaluable for employers,” she said.

Foreign Language

“The ability to speak more than one language can be very useful in a business setting, as it can open potential customers and clients to new markets,” Little said.

Therefore, if you’re bilingual, you’ll always want to include this on your resume — even if you think it isn’t applicable to the job.


Since technology is ever-changing, she said candidates with coding skills can help businesses build and maintain websites, create software and keep other digital products up to date.

“While some skills are more uncommon than others, when a candidate has multiple skill sets, they can easily move throughout an organization and add value to several teams, which can lead to a long career within an organization,” she said.

Data Analysis

The ability to interpret data and understand the story it tells is desirable to employers.

“Most companies rely on data to effectively operate and pivot as needed,” said Little. “With data analysis, employees can help leadership create and execute strategies based on facts and figures.”


It might not seem like an uncommon skill, but if you have a proven ability to be adaptable, this may work to your advantage..

“Many businesses are inundated with work, some of which is due to breaking into new industries,” Little said. “Candidates who have proven they can adapt to change and are flexible enough in their skillset to move where they are needed most within the organization will stand out — especially in comparison to a candidate who desires to stay in the box they know best.”

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“So many companies are busier now than ever before, while working with a smaller employee base,” she said. “The increased business and tight labor market means many managers do not have the bandwidth to train new hires as thoroughly as they may have in the past.”

Consequently, while marketing yourself as a self-starter might not be a new concept, this skill may be more valuable than ever.

“Many employers are seeking self-starters who require minimal guidance day to day,” she said. “Topping it off, being able to manage multiple projects at once and keep them on track is a great benefit to any employer.”

Creative Problem-Solving

Everyone doesn’t have the ability to come up with creative solutions to problems faced by companies, so if you do, she said this can boost your candidacy.

“Being able to proactively identify problems, find solutions and bring those ideas to the forefront is a highly sought-after skill,” she said. “Thinking outside the box and coming up with creative solutions can aid companies by helping them avoid problems in the future.”

Written and Verbal Communication

“Written and verbal communication skills seem basic, but top-notch talent who can communicate in a clear and concise manner are an asset to any team,” she said. “Couple this skill with other attributes, and the candidate floats to the top.”

If you’re currently undervaluing your outstanding written and verbal communication skills, it’s time to put them at the forefront.

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