The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) a Bethlehem, PA non-profit group that links college career placement offices with employers, ran a survey from mid-August through early October where it asked hiring managers what skills they plan to prioritize when they recruit from the graduating class at colleges and graduate schools. Though the survey sample is small—NACE collected responses from just 260 employers—the wisdom is sound.
Here are the 10 skills employers say they seek, in order of importance. NACE gave each a rating on a 5-point scale, where 5 was extremely important, 4 was very important, 3 was somewhat important, etc.:
1. Ability to work in a team structure
2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)
3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
5. Ability to obtain and process information
6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
7. Technical knowledge related to the job
8. Proficiency with computer software programs
9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
10. Ability to sell and influence others
The good news for grads: No matter what you have studied in school, whether anthropology or French or computer science, you will have had to learn the top five skills on the list. The trick is to demonstrate that you have those skills through your cover letter, résumé and interview. Think about class projects where you have been a team member or leader and jobs where you have had to plan and prioritize. Describe those skills specifically in your résumé and cover letter and in your job interview.
Click here to see how to acquire these transferable skills.