JUST TESTING

Top 7 Skills that Today's Employers Look For in College Grads

College grad in cap and gown looking at skyscrapers

Developing a resume and cover letter that will make prospective employers sit up and take notice is far from easy. In addition to highlighting credentials and work experience, you'll need to demonstrate that you hold the myriad of skills sought in today's demanding workplace. Many of these are technical in nature, but they must be accompanied by the soft skills that spell the difference between competence and excellence. Keep reading to learn which skills hiring managers value most.

Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills

The vast range of abilities that employers seek can nearly always be divided into one of two main categories: soft skills and hard skills. Both are important, but aspiring professionals focus all too often on building technical skills at the cost of the "soft" qualities that are just as important to employers. These intangible skills can sometimes be difficult to define, but they make a difference. Without them, professionals will struggle to succeed regardless of how talented they are in other respects. Important soft skills include:

●      Adaptability

●      Creativity

●      Critical thinking

●      Persuasion

●      Willingness to learn

For example, a registered nurse may work hard to develop elite clinical skills. Without top-notch interpersonal abilities (known in health care as a bedside manner), however, RNs will struggle to connect with patients and may never develop the sense of trust needed to produce long-term improvements in health outcomes.

Top 7 Skills Employers Look For

No two employers seek the exact same skills or experiences, but certain traits tend to be referenced as desirable more often than others. The sooner you determine these qualities and make a concerted effort to develop them, the better.

Keep these essential skills in mind as you up the ante for your resume, cover letter, or job interview.

1. Communication

Consistently highlighted as a priority among employers in all fields, communication skills determine whether you're able to understand and interact effectively with supervisors, customers, clients, and fellow staff members. Poor communication prevents you from making the most of the other skills you've worked so hard to develop.

While many people automatically assume that communication in the workplace means writing or public speaking, this multifaceted quality actually goes a lot further. Listening, for example, is a core component of communication. Employers appreciate active listeners who not only pay close attention to what others say, but also rephrase and ask clarifying questions to ensure they make the most of all that they hear.

Nonverbal communication should also be considered. This encompasses eye contact, posture, hand gestures, and tone of voice. The same phrases can have completely different meanings depending on how nonverbal communication is approached.

2. Problem-Solving

No matter how easygoing your workplace may seem, difficult situations are bound to arise from time to time. When the unexpected occurs, problem-solving skills allow you to respond quickly and effectively. As a talented problem solver, you can draw upon logic and imagination to uncover and implement a creative solution.

Given the fast-paced nature of today's work world, it should come as little surprise that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook survey regularly highlights problem-solving as one of the top attributes sought from modern resumes. From education to hotel management, problem-solving abilities can pave the path to better strategies and boosted performance in every field.

3. Teamwork

Collaborative workplaces call for employees who can interact with a variety of other people to achieve a common goal. Because so many tasks and projects rely on groups of professionals to be carried out effectively, employers want to feel confident that all those who contribute have exceptional teamwork skills. Hence, the second-place ranking of teamwork in the NACE survey.

Teamwork can take many forms. This skill is more nuanced than many people realize. While self-starters can play an important role in building team confidence to get their companions motivated, qualities such as empathy and respect are just as essential. The ideal team player will actively listen to others, providing acknowledgment, encouragement, and collaboration every step of the way. This doesn't mean shying away from conflict, but rather understanding that carefully navigating areas of disagreement can lead to exciting breakthroughs.

4. Leadership Skills

Leadership, like teamwork, has many facets. As such, regardless of personality, anybody can be a leader in some way. Some leaders have sunny personalities and a pep talk for every employee. Others are quieter, but compelling nonetheless—their calm and stoic personality allows them to shine in chaotic situations.

An effective leader must draw upon several important workplace skills while understanding which abilities are required in which situations. The best leaders are patient and empathetic, but they are also excellent delegators, capable of convincing team members to take on key tasks and keeping them motivated.

5. Digital Literacy

How comfortable do you feel navigating the digital world? Do you possess digital literacy, as defined by the American Library Association? This involves the "ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills." Somebody who is highly literate at the digital level will understand how to locate, create, and use web content.

Much of our work now occurs online, so a lack of digital know-how can be a real liability. At minimum, it's necessary to navigate operating systems, software, devices, and apps. These requirements will differ from one job to the next, so prospective employees should take the time to determine which digital skills are required of each position. For example, many employers want all workers to understand Outlook and PowerPoint which, in some positions, may be used on a daily basis.

6. Work Ethic

Focus and diligence are essential qualities in the workplace where employers want to know that they can count on professionals to get the job done. This intangible quality can be difficult to demonstrate or even understand, but employers know it when they see it. An employee with a strong work ethic doesn't need to be micromanaged because there's never any question as to whether this person will go above and beyond.

This skill has always been a core component of professionalism, but it's even more valued as a greater share of responsibilities are handled on a remote basis. Managers aren't able to monitor their employees as closely under such a setup, so they prefer to hire those who can stay on task without requiring a great deal of supervision.

7. Time Management

Stringent demands and tough deadlines can make it difficult for employees to complete tasks on time. Unfortunately, many will compromise on performance by succumbing to the temptation to procrastinate. With exceptional time management skills, however, it's possible to get more done in less time, all while maintaining high standards. Employers want to know that all professionals will make full use of the allotted time without diminishing the quality of their work.

There's more to time management than merely avoiding procrastination. This skill means setting achievable goals and consistently working towards them. Those with truly impressive time management skills can juggle a variety of responsibilities but still consistently meet deadlines.

Start Your Journey Today

The sooner you develop the many soft skills that today's employers seek, the better. Get started at Bryant & Stratton College, where a variety of courses will prepare you for success in your career and personal life. Contact us today to learn more about our online programs.


Share this:
 
 
 



Related Articles