Yesterday, we talked about why job seekers cannot rely on their paper qualifications alone to land them a good job.

In today’s article, we will discuss the top skills that employers look for.

Your personal brand

You might have a degree, perhaps a technical qualification and a bit of work experience on your resumé, but have you promoted your soft skills?

Do you even know what they are?

This does not mean that your degree is irrelevant to employers — the subject and standard of your degree may be essential or useful in helping you enter your chosen career.

But it does mean that, along with your studies, you should aim to develop skills that will be helpful to you in your future career, as such skills are sought by all kinds of employers.

The skills you should be developing are those that reflect your own personality, interests and abilities — as these are the qualities that will influence your eventual choice of career.

Recent developments strongly suggest that the service-driven economy has made soft skills — sometimes known in work-speak as “employability skills” — increasingly important for people seeking their first job.

The good news is that, while many soft skills are inherent, others can be learnt.

Soft skills are what make your personal brand but you need to think about them.

Instead of thinking, for example, “I have only worked at XYZ company”, ask yourself: “What did working at XYZ teach me?”

 What employers want

  • Here is a list of top skills that employers want:
  • Verbal communication
  • Teamwork
  • Commercial awareness
  • Analysing and investigating
  • Initiative/self motivation
  • Drive
  • Written communication
  • Planning and organising
  • Flexibility
  • Time management
  • Global skills
  • Negotiating and persuading
  • Leadership
  • Numeracy
  • Computing skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Personal impact/confidence
  • Lifelong learning
  • Stress tolerance
  • Integrity
  • Independence
  • Professionalism
  • Action planning
  • Decision-making
  • Interpersonal sensitivity, and
  • Creativity

 Developing employability skills

You won’t have all the top skills sought by employers before you start working, but it is important to work towards building as many of these employability skills as you can and showing that you have made an effort to develop them.

Qualifications: Working towards and achieving qualifications helps you to develop both your personal and functional skills.

Paper qualifications include diplomas, degrees and certifications and can be categorised as personal, learning and thinking skills.

 Work experience: Why not gain some work experience by volunteering or working part-time?

Getting some real experience in an office is an excellent way to develop your skills.

While you are at work, you will probably have to work in a team, turn up to work on time and maybe even deal with customers.

Take advantage of opportunities: Always take advantage of any opportunities offered to you in school, college or at university to develop your personal skills.

For example, you may be able to help out at school events such as drama or music productions, open-house evenings or sports days, or take part in business enterprise activities or employer-led projects.

Make sure, too, that you look out for any opportunities during your holidays and at weekends. For example, you could volunteer for a local community, youth, holiday or environmental project.

Career planning

Don’t limit yourself to thinking about just one job. Make sure that you find out about other jobs that are similar. 

For example, you may want to be a doctor but make sure you find out about all the other jobs in the health-care sector so that you know as much as possible about the industry and what else you could do.

The more you know about a job sector, rather than a specifc job, and the types of business and organisations that make up that sector, the more you will be able to show an employer, when you are applying for a job, that you have enthusiasm and understand their business or organisation. 

Article by Urvashi Dhar, founder and CEO, The Lausanne Group. For more information, e-mail