With each passing year, the workplace landscape has been getting increasingly better for post-secondary graduates. But with demand for young workers going up, employers are looking for more nuanced workplace skills. Can you solve problems, work well with a team, and communicate effectively? Awesome—those are the basic requirements that employers are looking for. But in this uber-competitive day and age, hiring managers are demanding more.
Employers pay more attention to skills than degrees. Not that credentials don’t matter, but personal skills seem to have taken some precedence over degrees when it comes to hiring young people. Business, computer and information sciences, and engineering are the most demanded college degrees of 2015, but having one isn’t exactly enough to get hired. You’re more likely to get hired for your ability to cooperate, your articulation skills, and your knack for prioritizing work than solely for your education.
The 10 Workplace Skills You’ll Need to Impress the Brass
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducted a survey outlining the most desirable employee traits in the eyes of employers in 2015:
- Working well in a team
- Effectively decision-making and problem-solving
- Possessing excellent verbal communication skills
- Properly organizing, planning, and prioritizing
- Being highly analytical
- Obtaining relevant information and processing it
- Creating reports
- Being fluent in computer programs
- Selling and marketing
- Possessing technical workplace knowledge
Pretty simple, no? If you feel that you don’t possess some of these skills, don’t worry. You can easily actually work on developing or improving these traits regardless of your majors. It just takes a bit of practice. To increase your chances in being offered a job, learn and demonstrate these skills to your potential employers.
At this point, you may be asking, “Wait a minute—how am I supposed to show my bosses what I’m made of before being hired? What are you saying to me?!” And we completely understand. It doesn’t seem to make sense at first glance, but there are a few subtle ways you can show ’em what you’re made of in the interview process alone.
Demonstrating Your Sweet Skills
Rather than building your resume with just your academic qualifications, use precious resume space to prove that you hold desirable workplace skills and traits. Here are some tips that’ll help you with that:
- Showcase impressive school projects
Listing down class projects where you’ve worked in a team or been a leader will help demonstrate your cooperative skills. Highlighting these projects can really beef up your CV to show off at your job interviews. Just be sure to keep it relevant; don’t mention small projects that took a mere hour’s work to complete. Think grander.
- Talk about your part-time jobs
If you worked as a library assistant or handled a stall at a college festival, for example, you should certainly use those jobs to bring out not only your work experience, but your interpersonal skills. If you could manage a stall, you definitely utilized your organizational skills for it. Every job gives you an opportunity to use and learn skills, so be sure to emphasize that.
- Think (and talk!) in numbers
Explain to the employer how you have been a core contributor to a job, event, or even a class project. For example, if you worked as a camp counsellor for the summer, talk about the scale at which you worked. Bigger numbers are more impressive, of course. You could say, for example, that you worked with a staff of 15 counsellors, supervised 40 activities, and coordinated activities for 150 young campgoers.
Remember: it’s important to be brief when citing this information, but also in a way that makes a strong impact on your interviewer. Don’t worry about bragging provided that you’re not all bark and no bite. Talk big if you’ve done big things. That simple.
Alright—You’ve Said it, Now Prove It!
It may be hard to believe that employers care this much about workplace skills, but it’s no myth.
Here’s an example: Dan Black, the former president of NACE’s administrative board, is currently the Americas Director of Recruiting for EY, a tax and assurance service provider. Black says that EY hires only 10% of their staff from an accounting or business background, while the remaining 90% hail from different disciplines. This is just one example of the way that hiring managers now choose to recruit employees, and this method of recruitment is becoming increasingly common.
Does This Apply to All Students?
Although we have a good idea of what the survey suggests, it’s equally important to understand what it does not suggest. The survey polled large companies like EY, KPMG, DuPont and General Electronics and did not include companies like media publishers or arts organizations. For students who have an interest in arts and humanities, don’t freak out and rush into business and engineering. Job opportunities for you are also numerous. They just might require a bit more leverage from a degree than jobs in the more administrative sector of employment.
No matter your discipline, it’s always possible to find a job. But your chances become far better if you can market your skills and personal traits for what they are: kick-ass.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.