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Skills employers seek

When applying for jobs It is important to provide evidence of your skills and this can come from work experience, academic work, your social life and any interests you pursue. Below is a selection of the skills that employers are looking for in graduates.


Analytical ability

The ability to assess a situation or issue and identify key elements that need to be addressed to move on. You will have used this skill in your academic work to solve problems, in your choice of university course and where you decided to live.

Commercial awareness

Being aware of business issues affecting the sector to which you are applying and understanding external factors and internal structures. You will build on this skill as you begin to apply for jobs, as you gather details about companies and follow up information sources.


This includes both written and oral communication: communicating with others through speech in a clear manner avoiding unnecessary jargon. It is the ability to explain processes simply and at a relevant level. You demonstrate this skill in seminars and tutorials, when you give a presentation or explain a work process in any job you may have held.

It can also be the ability to produce well expressed and easily understood text whether in emails or reports. You will have developed this skill through your course work, in project reports or dissertations, and you demonstrate it in covering letters and application forms too!


The use of imagination or original ideas to create something. Take the opportunity in the application/ interview to inform employers of creative hobbies or successes. 


Choosing the best option by looking at the various paths open to you, identifying the pros and cons and making a balanced judgement. Examples include choosing your career or your university course where you need to gather information before you can begin to reach a conclusion.

Emotional intelligence

The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions. As well as, handling interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.


This includes the creation and development of your own side-hustle/business or it can refer to your mindset being innovative and creative. Make sure to let employers know of any side hustles you may have.


This refers to the ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts or to think about multiple tasks simultaneously. Think about how you work flexibly between managing studies and extracurricular activities. 


Working to gain the agreement of others to a course of action, for example setting up a rota for dealing with household tasks, acting as a course representative, working on a group project.


The ability to find a new way of doing something, not waiting to see if the problem is solved by someone else, very close to problem-solving, but more pro-active. You may have taken the initiative in a bar job when you saw that certain basic processes could be managed more effectively or played an effective part on a hall committee to instigate recycling of wastepaper for example.


The ability to communicate or interact well with other people. This may include working successfully in a team. Consider what your role was in group projects and how you navigated conflicting personalities. 

IT skills

All employers will expect a basic level of familiarity with a range of computer packages for word-processing and spreadsheets, and of course social media, email, and web use. Take any opportunity you can to widen your knowledge while you are studying.



Leadership centres on encouraging others to move towards a specific goal. It determines an agenda for action, ideally in consultation. It is the ability to inspire and motivate without 'owning'. You may have demonstrated leadership in a team sport, organising and chairing a committee or co-ordinating activities within a group project.


Negotiating usually involves discussing a situation face-to-face or on the phone. The purpose is to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion which often involves some compromise which is acceptable to all parties. You may have negotiated with your landlord over your rent or repairs you needed fixing, or the bank for an increased overdraft for example.


This is an awareness of the need to develop a good network of contacts throughout your working life and indeed beforehand if you are attempting to enter a highly competitive field such as advertising. You need to be able to develop and maintain this sort of network in your professional life for advice and information. Effective networking depends on good oral communication and negotiation skills.


The ability to stay focused on different tasks as well as use your time, energy, strength, mental capacity, physical space, etc. effectively and efficiently to stay on top of priorities. 

People management

The ability to organise resources, time and events that will enable you to meet your goal. You could well have used your planning skills in project work, writing your dissertation, or organising an event. Think about the process you went through and try and identify various occasions when you used these skills.


Planning is the process of deciding in detail how to do something before you start to do it. This may include setting achievable goals.


The ability to choose an appropriate method to give information or facts, to present yourself to your employers in a positive manner, linked very closely to self-awareness and communication. 


The ability to find an appropriate solution to a problem using whatever information, experience and resources are available. Think about problems you have solved in your academic work, where a logical approach is frequently required. Other examples might be found in any outside activities you enjoy such as the planning of events. Linked closely with analytical skills.



This is all about not giving up when the going gets tough! It is about sorting out the problems that occur at the last minute and believing in getting the job done. You will have demonstrated this skill in your determination to achieve against the odds. Maybe you had to retake an examination or face some other disappointment such as not getting a vacation job until you had applied for about 20. If you found a way to resolve the situation and move on you have demonstrated resilience.


The ability to clearly identify your skills, values, interests, and core strengths - what makes you different. You welcome and act upon feedback constructively. This is a vital skill for your career management and one which takes time to develop. Resources such as Prospects Planner will help, together with discussions with your career’s adviser.


The ability to feel confident of your position and your views in a variety of situations - some of which will feel unfamiliar to you. You develop this skill through vacation activities such as travel which you have organised yourself and where you have had to depend upon your own initiative. Giving presentations adds to confidence too; in fact, any work that brings you into contact with the public will enhance your self-confidence.


This includes the ability to deal with change and the willingness to learn, both in the workplace and in your personal life, and to learn from the experience. Working structures are not static and it is essential that you show you are able to cope with new challenges and take calculated and informed risks. Your academic experience and any work you have undertaken outside university should give you examples of when you have demonstrated this skill.


Self-management requires self-awareness, but it is about setting your own targets and working out a plan to achieve them. You may have demonstrated good self-management in your successes to date, in sporting achievements, in excellent project reports for example.


The ability to motivate yourself is an important skill. It drives you to keep going even in the face of setbacks, to take up opportunities, and to show commitment to what they want to achieve.


The ability to work with others in an organised manner to achieve a goal. This is a key skill and you will have demonstrated it in any group project work, through team sports, committee activities, vacation work, Duke of Edinburgh activities, among others.


Time-management is demonstrated through juggling the many aspects of your working, academic and social life. Employers like to see well-rounded individuals who have busy lives, but who are in control. Some people plan their time graphically, others carry deadlines around in their head. Make sure you know what is effective for you.