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What Skills are Employers looking for in Graduates?


Today, every 6 out of 10 people are graduates. Hence when looking for a job, graduates are bound to face competition.

While experience is one factor that can set apart one from the rest, there are also other skills that employers look about. These vary from interpersonal to professional skills.

At the end of the day, it is not what you learn from books that matter in job market but what you are as a person and what you will be as a professional are the things that do matter.

skills employers look graduatesMany surveys and studies have found that when it comes to employing graduates, employers look for various skills that will ensure that the graduates are good fit for their organization. Some of the relevant skills required that can impress recruiters are:

What Skills are Employers looking for?

The following mentioned are few tips on what do employers look for in graduate candidates and good skills to have for a job.

1. Good communication skills:

Good and effective communication skills is one of the most important skills that employers look for in graduates. Both verbal and written skills at work are of importance.

The idea is to find that you can express ideas clearly and with confidence while writing or speaking.

It is a skill that is sought after almost all recruiters as good communication skills come handy while resolving conflicts, to express ideas and suggestions and also to present oneself before colleagues, customers and bosses.

2. Team Spirit:

As per the Job Outlook 2015 Report of The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) from Pennsylvania found that the ability to work in a team ranked highest among the employers.

Almost all kinds of office work mandates that people work with each other.

Even different departments in an office have to work in harmony with each other for the company to prosper. Hence team spirit is an important job skill that can help graduates land the job.

3. Leadership skills:

This is another skill that ranked high in the NACE Report. Leadership skills are not just for those being interviewed for managerial jobs but are important also for all posts and it is a skill that employers look in all candidates regardless the post they have applied for.

Leadership skills at work mean,

  • Ability to motivate the team
  • Delegate tasks
  • Set an example for others through their work acumen
  • Skilled to take initiatives and challenges.

Though leadership ability is an inherent one, it can also be acquired by training, experience and skill development.

4. The ability to research and analyze:

Be it any type of job, the ability to comprehend the complexity and nuances of a situation helps. This skill is what is referred to as analytical skill.

With this skill, it is also important that a candidate know the tricks and ways to gather information in a systematic manner and find the facts, principles and all other sides to a matter and come with a definite solution.

This is one of the most important and good skills for a job that a graduate should possess for quick landing of his or her dream job.

5. Computer knowledge:

This is one prerequisite for any kind of job today. It differs from job to job as to what kind of computer knowledge is the employer looking for but the minimum knowledge that is expected of all employees in all industries will be the ability to create word documents, to surf net and gather information, knowledge about emails, word processing, to create spreadsheets and presentation slides.

Advanced computer skills that involve the knowledge of making web pages, or knowledge of any computer language and others will be an advantage.

6. Problem solving skill:

The ability to think neutrally, fast and logically are needed for problem solving. No matter what kinds of problems arise, problem solving skill will help you think differently and come up with quick and practical solution.

7. Planning and organization skill:

A candidate knowing how to plan and organize will be able to multi-task for he will know how and what to prioritize, how to work efficiently and smartly and the know-hows of meeting deadlines in the most productive and smart ways.

It is an important skill because it will enable the candidate to plan activities and work matters efficiently and also to carry them to their logical conclusion.

8. The ability to persevere and motivation skills:

Working conditions can sometimes turn challenging and hence the employers look for candidates who can persevere and not give up easily. They look for candidates who can stay cheerful amidst even tough situations and look for solutions outside the box.

Employers are also looking at the motivational factors of a candidate as to what kind of situations do they find inspiring and if they can identify opportunities and make them work to their advantage and to that of the company.

9. The aptitude to be flexible and adapt:

Each day in an office is different and only those candidates who can adapt him or her to the changing situations will be able to last in a job.

That is why skills employers look for are flexibility and adaptability in a candidate.

10. Knowledge of business acumen:

No matter what job you are at or what your responsibilities are in an organization, it is important to know the commercial realities of the company you are working for.

With internet and most of the organizations having their own websites, it is easy to find out more about the company, its mission and vision, its mode of doing business, the products they deal with, their commercial standing, the issues they face and so on.

11. Quick decision making skill:

It is not just the knowledge of problem and solution that are needed, but the ability to take a quick and unwavering decision that is also looked for in a candidate.

How will a solution help if there is no one to implement it in then and there?

12. Extra-curricular skills:

Your academic achievements are important, no doubt, but at the same time, the saying, ‘All work and no play make jack a dull boy’, is relevant at a work place.

Hence it is important to have a resume that lists different types of skills needed for a job such as sports activities, creative skills, interest in art, or affinity to a social cause, etc.

These skills make one’s personality an interesting and well-rounded and make a candidate stand out from the rest.

13. Experience:

While a previous job experience is definitely a preferred item on your resume, this is not a possible skill for fresher’s.

Yet, what employers look for in a fresh graduate is that if he or she has any volunteering experience or has done an internship while in college or if he or she has done any part time work, in any field.

Such skills and experiences mean the candidate is ready to take up a job more seriously and already knows the basics of work etiquette.

14. A consistent drive:

The enthusiasm to get things done or the drive to excel and better oneself, or the drive to be ahead of the rest and so on are what separates a go-getter from other average employees.

The employers look for a strong drive in candidates that helps things get done and to carry out work more efficiently.

15. Time management skills:

This is one skill that every member of a team, be it the boss or others, should have. Hence it is no surprise that employees look for candidates who understand the value of time and are able to manage it efficiently thus taking time out to multi-task and complete work as per the deadlines.

16. Possession of global skills:

Today, with globalisation, countries are closer to each other than ever, by means of communication and business dealings. Businesses are expanding across borders and continents.

Add to this, online businesses. It is now possible to sit in Sri Lanka and order a dress from the US. Thus employees look for global skills in a candidate.

The ability to speak different languages, understand and assimilate different cultures, the skill of tolerance and respect towards other cultures and the ability to communicate and coordinate with people from different backgrounds are what comprise global skills.

17. Stress tolerance skills:

Stress tolerance skills can also be referred to as the ability to work under pressure. There can be occasions in an office where there are quick deadlines to meet or multi projects to be handled at one time and so on.

This skill enables one to work calmly no matter how high the pressure is.

18. Negotiation and persuasion skills:

If you thought these job skills are only required in the service industry where one has to communicate with different consumers every minute, then think again.

Negotiation and persuasion skills are also about the ability to convince others, to make them agree on matters and to be able to handle and understand different opinions well.

19. Creative skills:

It refers to the ability to think creatively, out of the box and being innovative in solving problems.

20. Career management skills:

Employees prefer graduates who know what they want in terms of career goals.

Candidates who can work with the employees to identify and create ways to enhance their employability skills and delve into ways that will help them soar in their careers are the ones who are serious about their work and profession.

Thus, career management skills are one of the top requisites of an employer.


Different jobs need different skills but employers while looking to hire graduates are also in the look out of general good skills to have, that will help them to short list the best ones.

The above skills are what essential in almost all kinds of employees, irrespective of the industry. While most of the above skills can be inherent, most of them can be learnt on the job or with different training programs.

Hence it is important for graduates, fresh or experienced, to polish their general skills and learn additional ones before presenting one before the interview panel.