Resumes & Cover Letters

Top 11 Skills Employers Look for in Candidates

December 1, 2020

There are a few skills that employers look for in job candidates no matter what the open position is, and having these skills can make you more marketable to recruiters. These skills include communication, problem solving and teamwork. In this article, we discuss the top 11 skills employers look for in applicants as well as how you can highlight these skills and tips for making yourself more attractive to hiring managers.

Top skills employers look for

Highlighting your most marketable skills on your resume and cover letter allows employers to quickly see what you have to offer as a candidate. The more relevant your skills are, the more attractive you'll appear to hiring managers. While there are particular skills needed for each industry and job, there are also core competencies that span across all professions. These are considered key employability skills and are essential to being an effective employee.

Here are 11 of the most sought-after employability skills that hiring managers search for in candidates:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Leadership skills
  3. Teamwork skills
  4. Interpersonal skills
  5. Learning/adaptability skills
  6. Self-management skills
  7. Organizational skills
  8. Computer skills
  9. Problem-solving skills
  10. Open-mindedness
  11. Strong work ethic

1. Communication skills

Communication skills are needed in virtually any job. Employers desire team members who can successfully interpret what is being asked of them as well as effectively communicate with others. Common communication skills to include on your resume include writing, speaking, listening and negotiating.

Read more: 10 Communication Skills to Add to Your Resume

2. Leadership skills

Leadership skills are one of the soft skills that many employers look for in candidates and that can be helpful at all levels of your career. From managing a team to contributing to a project in a leadership role, leadership skills help you motivate others and ensure tasks are completed promptly. Common leadership skills to put on your resume include active listening, dependability, the ability to give and receive feedback and patience.

3. Teamwork skills

Teamwork skills are an important asset to any employee who is part of an organization or who works with other individuals in their daily operations. Regardless of your job title or industry, many employers consider teamwork skills a must when reviewing applicants for an open position. Examples of teamwork skills to highlight include collaboration, honesty, communication and responsibility.

Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are skills that allow you to interact with and work well with others. Even if you aren't in a position that requires you to work directly with customers, you still probably need to work with colleagues and managers, making interpersonal skills important. These skills enable you to build relationships, communicate effectively and handle situations in an appropriate manner. Interpersonal skills that employers look for include motivation, flexibility and empathy.

5. Learning/adaptability skills

Learning skills are skills that enable you to learn new things and adapt to new situations within the workplace. This is especially important given the ever-changing workplace and the need for employers to stay competitive by implementing new initiatives. Having good learning and adaptability skills can set you apart from other candidates and show employers your willingness to learn and change when necessary. Examples of learning skills include collaboration, communication and critical thinking.

6. Self-management skills

Self-management skills are skills that allow you to manage your time and be as productive as possible within the workplace. These skills ensure you prioritize tasks effectively, focus on your professional growth and contribute to your organization as a whole. Good self-management skills to include on your resume include time management, organization and self-motivation.

Read more: Self-Management Skills: Definition and Examples

7. Organizational skills

Organizational skills are essential to an employee's productivity, time-management and goal achievement. They are beneficial in any professional position and are highly sought after by employers. Organizational skills that are especially important include planning, critical thinking, attention to detail and conflict management.

8. Computer skills

Nearly every occupation requires the use of a computer in some capacity. Many jobs require more in-depth knowledge of computers, so including this skillset on your resume is necessary to show employers you are familiar with computer basics at a minimum. If the job you are applying for requires more advanced computer skills, be sure to highlight these on your resume as well if you possess them. Computer skills to highlight include being able to use word processing, spreadsheets, social media, data visualization and email communication.

9. Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills refer to the ability to manage challenging situations at work productively and positively. This is especially important for employees who work in a large organization or as part of a team, but they are often considered essential skills for nearly all occupations. Common problem-solving skills to include on your resume are communication, decision making and research skills.

10. Open-mindedness

Open-mindedness is an important skill for anyone who is entering into a new position. Even if you have held the same position at a previous company, the new company you work for may do things differently. Being open-minded to learning a new way of performing your duties and being willing to learn and try new things is essential for job candidates.

11. Strong work ethic

A strong work ethic is another excellent skill to highlight when applying for jobs. Employers want employees who they can trust to perform their duties and meet deadlines without having to micro-manage them. Having a great work ethic ensures you can complete your tasks and manage your work effectively even when no one is regularly checking your progress.

Where do employers look for these skills?

Employers look for an applicant's skills in a few different places, with the most important places being resumes, cover letters and interviews. Here are factors to keep in mind when highlighting your skills in each of these settings:

Resumes

The best place to highlight your top skills is in the "Skills" section on your resume. You can list your skills in a bulleted format and include a brief description or provide examples for each. You can also incorporate mentions of these skills throughout the experience section of your resume in the descriptions of your job duties.

Cover letters

Your cover letter should include mention of two to three of your most marketable skills as they relate to the job you are applying for. Include these skills in the body of your cover letter as well as an example for each of how you have used these skills in your previous work experience.

Interviews

A job interview is a great time to openly talk about your marketable skills with the employer. During the interview, provide examples of how you have used your skills in the past. Try to mention all skills that are relevant for the position, especially the skills that were specifically mentioned in the job posting.

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