Skills That Will Get You Hired in 2015

Career Skills & Experience for 2015

As the economic recovery finally gathers momentum, employers are beginning to hire again. More than two-thirds of employers report having firm or tentative recruitment plans in place for the spring. But when they come to hire new employees, what will they be looking for?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed hundreds of employers, asking them what skills would be most sought-after in 2015. There was a surprising amount of agreement among employers—across companies, industries, and job types—about what made a candidate stand out. These five skills being cited as important by over 70% of employers.

#1: Leadership

#1 (Tied): Ability to work in a team

77.8% of employers responding to the survey said that leadership was a key attribute they sought in job seekers. An equal percentage said the ability to work in a team was important.

Clearly, many employers expect both leadership and teamwork from prospective employees. Why would employers be looking for people who are both leaders and followers? The answer is that many of the qualities of a leader are useful even to people who aren’t managers.

Warren Bennis, the “father of leadership,” once said that “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Today, employers seek out people who are comfortable being self-directed, and able to motivate and inspire others. Those are leadership qualities, and they’re valuable even in jobs where employees are not managing other people. That’s why it’s not a contradiction to want leaders and team players at the same time.

#3: Written Communication

Most job descriptions ask for candidates with excellent communications skills. And it’s not an idle wish—73.4% of employers mentioned written communications skills as vital to prospective employees. But what makes someone a good written communicator?

Effective written communication takes practice, but does not require a thesaurus or a fancy style. Good writing in business has the following features:

  • succinct: it uses no more words than is necessary;
  • clear: it conveys the writer’s meaning without causing confusion;
  • organized: it breaks down information into manageable pieces (like this list!);
  • tailored to its audience: it uses a tone, vocabulary, and style that is appropriate to the person reading it;
  • purposeful: there is a clear reason for writing, and it’s clear what the reader is being asked to do.

#4: Problem-Solving Skills

Problem solving is an attitude as much as it is a skill. In many cases, it’s reasonable, and sensible, to take a problem you’re having to a coworker or more senior person. But a good problem-solver tries to address issues themselves, seeking out creative solutions before taking them up the management chain. 70.9% of employers cited problem-solving skills as important to them.

#5: Strong Work Ethic

It’s no surprise that employers prefer hard workers. In a way, though, it’s encouraging that 70.4% of employers specifically said they were looking for hard workers. It’s a sign employers are not getting all the hard workers they need, and that a good work ethic—putting in a little extra effort even when you’re not asked to—can help you stand out.

Showing Your Skills

How do you demonstrate these skills to an employer? Fortunately, NACE looked into that too. They asked employers to rank the importance of aspects of a candidate’s CV on a scale of 1 (no influence on hiring decisions) to 5 (extreme influence). The qualities employers most sought were:

  • leadership experience (3.9 out of 5);
  • college major (3.9);
  • high GPA (3.6);
  • extracurricular activities (3.6);
  • school attended (2.8).

As we have seen, employers value leadership, so it’s unsurprising that leadership experience rates highly. Likewise, the benefit of a relevant college major and good grades are clear. More surprising, perhaps, is the finding that what candidates did outside of school mattered much more that what school they attended.

The lesson is that your CV should show your skills, not just your activities. You can show leadership skills if you were captain of a sports team, or president of club, for example. If you excelled in a composition or English class, that demonstrates your communications skills. And if you worked a hospitality job and showed initiative in helping customers, you can point to real life examples of your problem solving skills and work ethic.

But while general skills are important, these numbers show that specific qualifications are still critical to landing the job you want. If you’re hoping to qualify for the job you’ve always wanted, visit our schools databases for courses you can take on campus or online.


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