10 Skills Job Seekers Need

When it comes to a job seeker's skills/qualities, employers are looking for team players who can solve problems, organize their work, and communicate effectively, according to employers who responded to NACE's Job Outlook 2014 survey. (see figure 1)

How can you demonstrate that you have these qualities? Here are some things you can do during your college years to meet these demands:

  • Join extracurricular activities. Being an active member of a club or an intramural sports team, organizing a volunteer project, or taking part in group tasks, will help you earn that top quality spot, "ability to work in a team structure." Participating in extracurricular activities while maintaining a high GPA will demonstrate that you have the "ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work."
  • Keep your GPA high. Good grades show that you have a solid knowledge base—"technical knowledge related to the job"—and demonstrates a strong work ethic.
  • Find an internship. Another way to demonstrate your knowledge of the job is to have done an internship or two in your field. You'll have taken an opportunity to look at your future career close up while getting hands-on experience with any potential job. Your internship can put your "foot in the door" to a job opportunity with many employers and help you build a network of professionals in your field.
  • Make a date with Career Services. The career services staff can help you go a long way in preparation for selling yourself to future employers. In addition to helping you choose a major and career direction, a career counselor can help you find internships, perfect your cover letter and resume, and develop your interviewing skills. Good interview skills will help you show a potential employer know that you can "verbally communicate" with people inside and outside the organization.

Employers rate the importance of candidate skills/qualitites

Skill/Quality Weighted Average Rating*
Ability to work in a team structure 4.55
Ability to make decisions and solve problems 4.50
Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work 4.48
Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization 4.48
Ability to obtain and process information 4.37
Ability to analyze quantitative data 4.25
Technical knowledge related to the job 4.01
Proficiency with computer software programs 3.94
Ability to create and/or edit written reports 3.62
Ability to sell or influence others 3.54

* 5-point scale, where 1=Not at all important; 2=Not very important; 3=Somewhat important; 4=Very important; and 5=Extremely important

Source: Job Outlook 2014, National Association of Colleges and Employers