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5 Skills Employers Want From College Graduates

Jun 10, 2014

Congratulations, Grad! You stayed up late nights, had some fun… some more than others, studied until the sun came up, typed papers until your hands cramped, got the grades, passed your finals and here you are. It’s official; you made it through college. Now what? It’s time to look for a career.

4608963722_7c88e503f8_m 5 Skills Employers Want From College Graduates

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) a non-profit group that links college career placement offices with employers, ran a survey where it asked hiring managers what skills employers want from college graduates. Despite all the emphasis in the news about the need for computer software and programming skills, the most important qualities employers seek are basic teamwork, problem-solving and the ability to plan and prioritize.

Here are the Top 5 skills employers seek:

1. The ability to work in a team
2. The ability to make decisions and solve problems
3. The ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
4. The ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
5. The ability to obtain and process information

Skills: How to display what you have learned

The good news for graduates: No matter what you have studied in school, whether History or Marketing or Computer Science, you have to learn these skills. The trick is to demonstrate that you have those skills through your cover letter, résumé and interview.

For instance if you worked in a restaurant throughout college; you could say you worked on a team of 10-20 people and handled food orders. Or if you worked in the library, include the size of the staff and that you handled requests from 50 students a day at the circulation desk. For those who haven’t experienced the “real world” workforce as of yet; even a job as a counselor in a summer camp can involve team work, decision-making and planning. Make sure you spell out those responsibilities briefly but specifically. For example, you would include that you worked on a staff of 20, supervised the daily activities of 35 campers and organized group activities. The skills you pick up through working and volunteering are enormously valuable to your transition from college graduate to working adult.

The survey makes clear that employers are looking for universal skills you can learn across the board of academic disciplines and in any job where you are working with others. Your job now is to communicate clearly that you have those skills. These skills are necessary in looking at when you are wanting content and learning How To Build Your Resume.