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CVs & Cover Letters

Top Skills That Employers Look For – by Category

Posted by Andy Agouridis

Director of CareerHigher

Last Updated 13 July 2022
|6 min read

Each job requires a specific set of skills to demonstrate how capable you are to do the job. However, there are some skills and qualities employers look for in a potential employee regardless of the position they are seeking to fill. Attesting that you actually possess these skills can make you more marketable and hireable. In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about these skills, how to improve them, and how you can highlight them during your job search to maximise your chances of achieving a positive outcome.

Why is it vital to list your skills on your CV?

Your skills list is one of the most important sections of a best practice CV and LinkedIn profile. Typically, it is the first place an employer will check to understand whether you have what it takes for the position they are hiring for. So, apart from job-specific skills, make sure to include attributes that employers are likely to look for in a candidate to increase your chances of getting noticed and being considered for the next step of the hiring process.

Top Skills Employers Look For

Without further ado, here are the top sought-after skills you can consider adding to your CV.

Communication

Communication is one of the most crucial skills in almost every position and industry. Your ability to interpret and relay information clearly, succinctly, and effectively across various audiences is a key factor in completing assigned tasks. So, employers are always on the look for potential employees with good communication skills no matter what the job type and level are. This may include:

  • Written communication
  • Non-verbal communication or body language
  • Verbal communication
  • Empathy
  • Observation
  • Listening
  • Friendliness
  • Respect
  • Giving feedback
  • Confidence

Leadership

Whether you are applying for an entry-level position or management role, leadership is a valuable ability to showcase during your job search. This skill is not just all about managing a team, it also includes your capacity to lead on a project and make the team follow through to accomplish a common goal. Demonstrating your excellent leadership qualities on your CV not only increases your employability but also gives you higher chances for career advancement if hired. Good leadership skills involve:

  • Decision making
  • Delegation
  • Ability to mentor
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Dependability
  • Patience
  • Flexibility
  • Timely communication
  • Team building

Teamwork

Employers seek candidates with strong teamwork skills as it demonstrates leadership, collaboration, and communication. Remember, just being on a team is completely different to enabling this team to collaborate. What employers want are team players who make positive contributions to help the group succeed and accomplish assigned goals. So, make sure to highlight some of the following attributes on your CV.

  • Accountability
  • Honesty
  • Coordination
  • Awareness
  • Mediation
  • Attentiveness
  • Reliability
  • Commitment
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Trustworthiness

Problem Solving

Every company may encounter challenges in its operations at any given time. Hence, one important quality many employers look for in a candidate is their capability to approach problems from different angles. So, to gain a competitive edge over other candidates, make sure to demonstrate your ability to think on your feet and deal with problems that require quick response and resolution. This includes:

  • Analytical skills
  • Innovative/critical thinking
  • Researching skills
  • Risk management
  • Creativity
  • Active listening
  • Judgement
  • Evaluation
  • Teamworking skills
  • Communication

Digital Skills

Almost every job, regardless of type and level, requires the employee to use a computer in some of their capacity. Technology has become increasingly important in modern businesses nowadays. Thus, employers value candidates with at least basic knowledge of some computer software and the ability to adapt to new ones to efficiently complete the tasks at hand. Some common computer skills they look for include:

  • Data entry
  • Database management
  • Microsoft office suite
  • Word processing
  • Presentation software 
  • Calendar management
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Social media
  • Email communication
  • Data visualisation

Organisation

Organisation skills enable you to prioritise and decide what is important to focus on to successfully complete all your assigned tasks. This also involves working productively to meet deadlines while maintaining an orderly workplace at all times. Some of the organisational attributes you can highlight on your CV include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Prioritisation
  • Planning
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Setting goals
  • Conflict management
  • Self-motivation
  • Analytical thinking
  • Decision making
  • Time management

Work Ethic

Employers always value hard work, dedication, and determination toward a job. To position yourself as an outstanding potential employee, it is important to showcase your ability to take initiative, work independently with minimal supervision, and pull all your efforts to support the company in achieving its goal. Here are some attributes you can include on your CV.

  • Accountability
  • Discipline
  • Initiative
  • Dedication
  • Professionalism
  • Integrity
  • Determination
  • Humility
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Goal-oriented 

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills relate to the way you interact with others, both inside and outside an organisation. These abilities are important while working not only with colleagues and managers but also with customers. These allow you to build collaborative relationships with all organisational levels to handle complex situations appropriately. To demonstrate that you possess these skills, you can emphasise the following on your CV.

  • Public speaking
  • Social skills
  • Sensitivity
  • Sympathy
  • Compassion
  • Ability to inspire
  • Ability to motivate others
  • Relationship building
  • Collaboration
  • Influencing skills

Employers believe that employees who manage their time well are more efficient and productive. In addition, employees who can make optimal use of the time available can bring significant savings to the company and therefore increase their revenue. Hence, it is imperative to emphasise your ability to analyse workload, assign priorities, and plan towards productivity to position yourself as a capable hire. You can include the following time management related attributes to your CV.

  • Multitasking
  • Scheduling
  • Strategic planning
  • Prioritisation
  • Task management
  • Goal setting
  • Cooperation 
  • Process improvement
  • Flexibility
  • Organisation

Business Acumen

Business acumen showcases your knowledge of how a business or industry works. This involves having the ability to understand and effectively cope with diverse business scenarios, remain flexible in a highly demanding environment, and provide insightful recommendations to help the business succeed. To set yourself apart from other candidates, here are some examples of business acumen skills you can integrate into your application.

  • Leadership
  • Strategic thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Marketing
  • Financial skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Innovation
  • Market orientation
  • Smart decision making 
  • Creative problem solving

How to improve your skills?

In this part of the article, we will share a guide on how you can improve your skills to make yourself the most impressive candidate you can be, increasing your employability.

  1. Choose the skills you want to focus on improving.
  2. Set goals and put your full efforts into working on them until you achieve them.
  3. Invest in education, pursue online courses or read relevant online resources.
  4. Ask for feedback and get honest assessments from colleagues to measure your progress.
  5. Continuously practise until you feel confident that you’ve mastered them. 

How to highlight your skills during a job search?

To maximise your job search success rate, how you highlight the skills employers look for in a candidate is key. To help you out, here are some effective ways:

The CV.

The CV is the best place to highlight your skills that showcase your employability. You can do this by adding a key skills section listing job-specific skills as well as the attributes aligned with the position you’re applying to. Apart from this, you can also integrate them throughout your CV, including the professional summary section and the job descriptions of your work history.

The cover letter.

Your cover letter is another good place to tell employers that you have what it takes to perform the job well. Choose two to three skills to highlight and provide examples of how you’ve put them to use to deliver outstanding results to your past companies. Then, include specific numbers and figures as evidence, which will also allow you to outshine the competition.

The job interview.

The job interview is your last chance to convince employers that hiring you would be in their best interest. To market yourself effectively, use the STAR method in answering questions. This will allow you to better demonstrate your capability to use a particular skill to achieve a set goal.