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Skills Employers Seek
As you take your undergraduate courses, you may wonder how they are going
to help you eventually "on the job." A good approach is to take a skills orientation. Think of
your courses not only as ways of learning about particular subjects but also as
learning experiences which refine a variety of specific skills.
A bit of reflection will show that your
courses, earlier work experiences, and hobbies are providing you with skills
that later employers may value. If asked in a job interview how your education
has prepared you for a specific job, you can be ready with some good answers, if
you think about it beforehand.
This handout gives you some ideas about skills which are useful to employers
and which might be part of what you can offer an employer. A companion
page, "Suggested Courses to Develop Skills that
Prospective Employers Want," lists courses that can help you develop
- Develop a habit of curiosity.
- Think creatively.
- Solve problems effectively and quickly.
- Work well with those who are different from you.
- Be able to extract the important ideas from written
words as well as graphs and tables.
- Be able to apply information to solve problems and
- Be able to communicate (orally) ideas clearly,
concisely, accurately, and logically.
- Be able to write introductory summaries and wrap-up
- Be able to document and illustrate ideas, including
creating tables and graphs.
- Be able to identify problems in data.
- Be able to reason numerically.
- Be able to apply/use data to solve problems (knowledge
of statistics very useful here).
- Be able to communicate, orally, ideas clearly,
concisely, and persuasively.
- Use "active" listening skills to improve mutual
- Be curious enough to probe for critical information
- Be sensitive enough to hear and relate to the emotions
behind another's words.
- Be able to use standard word processors and
- Become competent with social media, email, messaging,
- Learn how to solve problems by using search engines to
find and evaluate solutions
Group Interactional Skills
- Be able to solve problems in a group.
- Be able to think creatively in a group.
- Be able to judge and engage in appropriate behavior.
- Be able to cope with undesirable behavior in others.
- Be able to absorb/deal with stress.
- Be able to deal with ambiguity.
- Be able to inspire confidence in others.
- Be able to share responsibility with others.
- Be able to interact effectively with others.
- Be able to negotiate from a "win-win" perspective.
Interpersonal Influence skills
- Be able to achieve personal goals, as well as
influence others and the larger organization.
- Know how organization is structured, how it works, and
why it works the way it does.
- Know how, why, when, and by whom decisions are really
Knowing how to learn
- Understand how you absorb and retain information.
- Learn when you are most alert and use this time to
- Keep aware of external events and reflect on how those
events affect you.
Adapted from: Hall, V. and Wessel, J. (1989,
December 3). As today's work world changes, so do the skills employers seek. The
Atlanta Journal/The Atlanta Constitution, p. 53S. (Part I)
Hall, V. and Wessel, J. (1989, December 10).
Today's employees need skills once reserved only for "top brass." The Atlanta
Journal/The Atlanta Constitution, p. 39R. (Part II)
APA-style reference for this page:
Lloyd, M. A., & Kennedy, J. H. (2008,
August 28). Skills employers seek. Retrieved from:
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