Employers are always on the lookout for hard-working employees who take initiative and are proactive about finding new ways to help the company do its work. Employees with initiative don’t just wait around for their boss to assign them tasks. They’re self-motivated and driven to do whatever they can to improve their company from their current position.
Top Skills Employers Look For
The ultimate goal of going to college is not just to get the degree, but to land a career as well. Obviously, employers want to make sure you are qualified for the job by having the appropriate degree, but they also need to know if you have the skill set too.
Critical thinking is necessary for almost every job. Employees need to be able to analyze evidence, question assumptions, test hypotheses, observe and draw conclusions from any form of data. Critical thinking is not just a skill, but a habit formed to help with problem-solving.
Although critical thinking can be taught in the classroom, it needs to be applied during studies and real-world experiences so you can make a habit of using critical thinking in your daily life. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, critical thinking skills are the top priority for an employer to hire someone. Although critical thinking skills are what employers desire and find most essential, the average employer thinks recent graduates are only “somewhat proficient” in critical thinking skills. This means that, while employers think critical thinking skills are 99.2% essential, only 55.8% of graduates are proficient.
How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills
By engaging in active learning, students will begin to apply critical thinking skills to their work. Active learning occurs through many opportunities. Whether it be a cooperative educational opportunity, an internship, practicums, labs, or field experience, active learning puts the students directly in the situation they would be handling in their career. By doing so, the student not only gains real-world experience but is able to put their problem-solving skills to the test and truly begin to develop them.
Critical thinking skills can also be developed through engaging students in learning during class. By being involved in class discussions, activities and engaging with other students and the professor, you will not only develop your problem-solving skills through collaboration but will also work on your teamwork skills.
The Importance of Teamwork & Collaboration in the Workplace
While college group projects at times might feel burdensome, these team assignments will prepare you for your future workplace environment. Teamwork is necessary for jobs all across the spectrum. From construction work to marketing, nursing to acting, teamwork and collaboration is a vital part to keeping the organization or company running smoothly.
By interacting and collaborating with your colleagues, the organization or company will have growth and success. Everyone has a different skill set they bring to the table. By interacting with your co-workers, you may reach a better conclusion or idea than you would have on your own. When arriving at your new career with quality teamwork skills already in your pocket, you can be a step ahead of the competition. Although critical thinking skills were something many employers thought graduates could improve on, teamwork and collaboration were skills most employers were highly impressed with. 97.5% of employers think teamwork and collaboration are important in the workplace while 77% believe that graduates are demonstrating these skills proficiently.
7 Skills Employers Look For Regardless of the Job
You’re confident your education will eventually give you the technical skills you’ll need, but the interview process still concerns you. Positions at the best companies can be competitive, even in growing industries—so what can you do to make yourself stand out as a qualified job candidate?
While some fields are more technically-demanding than others, like nursing or data analytics, you can make a good impression by showing that you also have the broad “soft” or “transferable” skills employers look for when hiring a new team member. We spoke with hiring managers across a variety of fields to discover the high-value transferable skills you can highlight in order to stand out.
7 Soft skills employers look for when hiring
When it comes to what employers look for when trying to fill a vacancy, it’s about more than just the technical skills. Those abilities are expected in order to fulfill the job duties. But it’s often the soft skills that separate an average employee from a great employee.
Soft skills are traits like teamwork, listening and communication, which may not seem as important as technical skills, but they make a big impact in the workplace. No matter what your ideal career path looks like you’ll use soft skills—whether that’s communicating with patients as a medical assistant, giving a presentation as marketing specialist or working on a team as a software developer.
“Companies can train employees in technical skills, but soft skills are much harder to teach,” says Sophie Miles, cofounder of elMejorTrato. You can grab an employer’s attention right off the bat if you walk in the door with in-demand soft skills that can’t be easily taught.
You won’t get far in the workplace if you don’t have the ability to communicate well with those around you. “Most problems that have occurred in the past probably could have been resolved with the proper communication,” says Cornelius Charles, co-owner of Dream Home Property Solutions, LLC. Charles adds that employers value this skill because it allows them to mitigate risk and avoid problems before they arise.
Having strong communication skills in the digital age means solid writing and speaking skills, both in person and over the web with tools like video conferencing and email. You can demonstrate your communication prowess in an interview by practicing active listening, asking questions, remembering the interviewer’s name and sending a thank-you note.
2. Time management
Meeting deadlines and staying efficient are important to companies in every industry. That makes time management a valuable skill for employees who are often juggling multiple projects at a time. Employers want to know they have employees who can manage their time well so managers don’t have to look over their shoulders to ensure they’re staying on track.
“The ability to manage time successfully is often demonstrated during the interview process,” Miles says. You can start your interview on the right foot simply by being on time. Beyond that, try talking about times in your life where you clearly had competing priorities and explain what you did to stay on top of deadlines.
3. Critical thinking and problem solving
Critical thinking is a skill that allows you to objectively examine information to determine the best way to move forward, and it’s a key component of problem solving. “In any job and any company, employees are bound to run into unexpected challenges and setbacks. Companies rely on employees who take action and find creative solutions to problems the company is facing,” says Eleonora Israele, hiring manager at Clutch.co.
You can brush up on your critical-thinking skills by practicing on problems you encounter in your daily life. Why did your cat stop using the litter box? How can you save enough money to take a vacation next year? What does your community baseball team need to work on in order to win their next game? Ask smart questions, conduct research and make an educated guess to solve the problem.
No career path is exempt when it comes to the ability to work well on a team. Even positions with a lot of independent work will still require you to collaborate with others. “Every role in a company is connected to other roles and teams,” Israele says. “Employees that are able to work well with others and understand their points of view often come up with creative solutions efficiently and effectively.”
The importance of teamwork can’t be overstated, so it’s a skill you’ll want to communicate to employers during your interview. Be sure to mention specific instances where you worked well with a team, either in school or in a past job, and share the positive outcomes that resulted from your group’s effort.
5. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand both your own emotions and the emotions of those around you. This is especially helpful in the workplace, where teams work together to keep companies functioning successfully. If teamwork is a vital component of a successful company, then emotional intelligence is the glue that makes all that collaboration possible.
There are many signs you may have high emotional intelligence, but one of the biggest is empathy. “To become a valuable employee, it’s important to sense facts from a peer’s perspective,” says Ketan Kapoor, CEO and co-founder of Mettl. “This single shift of perspective helps build a thriving, positive company culture.”
6. Digital literacy
We live in a technology-driven age that demands digital literacy in nearly every profession. Demand for digital literacy goes far beyond technology careers. Being comfortable with computers, online research and apps—not to mention industry-specific software—is expected in the workplace today.
How to use these skills on your resume
The most important thing to remember is that employers are looking for skills that are relevant to the position you’re targeting. Check the job description to see what skills are needed for the job. Then make sure they’re included on your resume.
Also, remember that most companies today use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to automatically screen your resume. These systems automatically screen your resume to see if you’re a good match for the position. An average of 75% of candidates are rejected by ATS and many times, the candidate is
Emphasize these skills and qualities in your cover letter and interview
Demonstrate these qualities and skills in your interactions with the company during the hiring process: any follow up messages, scheduling an interview, the initial phone screen, the interview itself, and your subsequent thank you note.
Including the right skills and qualities on your resume is important to do correctly! It’s not enough to list your skills: employers want to know the context. Add results, numbers, and impact whenever possible and watch your impressive resume blow them away.