10 Skills Employers Look For

Employers are awfully needy aren’t they? As if it's not enough that you just sweated over your degree for 3 years, they also want you to bring real tangible skills to the table as well! The cheek of it!

Here at GradTouch, we’re privy to the exact skills that these pesky employers are looking for and, as we’re such nice guys, we thought we’d share the top 10 most requested with you, as well as offering a few suggestions on how to attain and  develop them. 

1. Communication skills

Yep, this old chestnut finds its way onto most job ads, and unsurprisingly so. This rather vague phrase encompasses verbal, written, and listening skills; essentially, the ability to construct and deliver a clear & concise message, tailored to your audience – and a willingness to listen and take on board feedback from others.

So how can you develop this skill? On a technical level, you need to wow employers with some very sexy spelling and grammar. There are so many support tools on the internet to help you with this, so there’s no excuse for getting it wrong. If it's interpersonal skills you need to prove, experience working with others (be it in a sports team, at work or at uni) will speak for itself.

2. Organised

Think Monica from Friends. It's all about managing your time effectively in order to get the work done on time and to an exact standard. If you're a bit scatty (think Phoebe) a job that specifically requests a highly organised personality might not necessarily be for you.

This being said, most graduates have evolved into time management marvels by the time they leave university - having had to juggle academic studies, extra curricular activities, part time work (and of course, partying) for 3 years in a row. Having this experience will already suggest to employers that you're able to prioritise your time and attention effectively - just don't prove them wrong by turning up to the interview late.

3. Commercial Awareness

If you're an Arts graduate like me, this phrase is sure to trigger feelings of alarm and have you cursing your non-practical degree. However, there's really no need to panic. The best way to build commercial awareness is to RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. It's all about getting to know the industry you want to get into before you apply.

This will involve pouring over the employer's company website, trawling the internet to familiarise yourself with recent industry trends and noting down relevant news stories that you can knowledgeably talk about at the interview. I know this sounds like a lot of hard work but, believe me, you'll reap the benefits later.

4. Teamwork

Like it or not, you're going to encounter other people in the office and you're probably going to have to work together at some point. We understand that it can be difficult to work collaboratively with certain colleagues who insist on drinking coffee from your mug that you brought especially from home but you'll just have to summon some saint-worthy patience in order to get on with them and the task at hand. 

Getting involved in a society at uni is a really good way to demonstrate your ability to build effective relationships with others in order to achieve a positive outcome. If up until now you've been a bit of a recluse, it's time to get out there and get involved. It's never too late!

5. Motivation

This is another really vague requirement that crops up time and time again on job specs. So what does it mean? Really, it's a way for employers to convey that they're not going to hold your hand for the entirety of your time with them. Most companies will provide the necessary initial training to ensure that you're fully aware of how to perform your role, but beyond that, they will want you to show initiative when faced with certain issues.

Try and think of a time you have faced an obstacle and then employed impressive amounts of 'get-up-and-go' to overcome it!

6. Leadership

Chances are, you're not going to walk straight into a managerial role fresh out of university, but most employers view graduates as a long term investment. They'll want to detect the potential in you to motivate teams and other colleagues further down the line. It's all about assigning and delegating tasks well, setting deadlines and leading by example. Have you proven your ability to do this whilst volunteering, on an internship or during work experience? Big it up on your CV, cover letter and at the interview!

7. Numeracy

A sought after skill that will please the Vordemons among you but one that will send maths haters (myself included) running scared. Like it or loathe it, the truth stands that numeracy is a fundamental skill that all employers look for. If you're after a career in a creative industry, you're unlikely to use algebra on a day to day basis, but basic numeracy skills WILL be called upon at some point. Brush up on them now to avoid that mini heart attack moment when you're presented with figures at work.

8. Work experience

If an employer can see that you've experienced a real working environment before - and survived it - you're a much safer bet than an office novice who doesn't know if they're interested in a 9-5 lifestyle just yet. Of course, the problem is, you've just been at university and work experience opportunities were hard to come by/fit into your busy studying schedule. Don't fret though, we've mulled the problem over and written a helpful blog on how to get it AND how to create a brilliant CV with minimal experience.

9. Positive attitude

Nobody likes a pessimist in the workplace; Eeyore wouldn't last one minute in business. Employers want somebody with a can-do attitude who approaches problems with a belief that they can overcome them. Think about the company ethos and be sure that their attitude to work aligns with your own. If you're not a naturally sunny person and they're asking for an upbeat candidate, don't apply!

10. Self confidence

Reeling off your past achievements and enviable abilities might make you cringe but it's necessary in order to convince your employer that they should choose you over all the other grads vying for the same position. Having a steadfast conviction in your abilities is absolutely essential in order to persevere on the job hunt, make it through the interview process AND progress afterwards once you've got the job. You're great - so believe it!

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