Do You Have These Top 5 Skills Every Employer Is Looking For?

Having good academic qualifications are not enough to secure a job. Find out what must-have skills employers are looking for in graduates.

Updated 09 Aug 2017

Do You Have These Top 5 Skills Every Employer Is Looking For? - Feature-Image

The future can be a big and scary place.

With the national rise in fresh graduate unemployment, securing a job may not be as easy as it seems. A recent survey by revealed that employers are looking beyond academic qualifications as the deciding factor when hiring graduates.

So what can you do to increase your employability? Based on the survey, here are the 5 skills every fresh graduate must have.

#1. Leadership skills

Do You Have These Top 5 Skills Every Employer Is Looking For - 1 Leadership skills

Have you ever held a leadership position during your school or college years? If the answer is yes, then congratulations, you may have this one under your belt!

Employers have ranked leadership skills as the number one attribute they look for when interviewing candidates. Its importance stems from the fact that employees who harness these skills are keen to take on responsibility, follow a sensible course of action and take full accountability for the results of their decisions.

Although some people are natural-born leaders, this skill can be acquired through training and experience. So it is important to be active in co-curricular activities while in college. Grab the chance to organise events and festivals or volunteer to be a group leader. These will help to hone your leadership skills for sure.

#2. Technical skills

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While there is an overwhelming emphasis on soft skills in this list, having the right attitude and personality will not bring you far if your technical skills are left to be desired.

Technical skills refer to the ability and knowledge to perform specific tasks in a job. They are most relevant in fields such as information technology, engineering, design, science and accounting. For example, if you are looking for a job as a graphic designer, you will be required to be well-versed in using design software (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) and knowledgeable in colour theory.

Having said that, even if you are not on the hunt for a technical job, it is still vital to equip yourself with the basic technical skills, such as computer literacy, numeracy and writing skills. If you have your eyes set on a particular job, find out what hard skills will give you an edge over the other candidates, whether it’s programming, social media marketing or data analysis.

#3. Multitasking skills

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The truth is that employers do not have the luxury of assigning you one task at a time. With the competitive nature of businesses these days, employers naturally expect you to be proficient in handling multiple priorities and tasks all at once.

What this means is that you will need to know how to organise, prioritise and work efficiently. It may sound simple, but imagine having to complete yesterday’s meeting minutes, follow-up with a vendor on a quotation and check in with a colleague on the latest status of a task while compiling 1,000 rows of data for a whitepaper and analysing industry reports for the latest trends – all by the end of the day. Things can get chaotic!

To hone this skill set, look for internships and part-time jobs during your semester breaks. Exposing yourself to the workforce early on will benefit you in spades as you will be able to give solid examples of effective time management when it’s time to hunt for your first job.

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#4. Communication skills

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No man is an island, and this can be seen from the emphasis that employers place on communication skills and proficiency in the English language.

Being able to convey information effectively and express your thoughts and ideas eloquently is crucial in the workplace, especially since you will be working with people of various backgrounds. This doesn’t only apply to verbal communication but written communication too.

Start sharpening your communication skills by striking up conversations with people outside your common circle of friends and by reading good books. This will help build confidence, boost your vocabulary and help you articulate your thoughts clearly.

#5. Interpersonal skills

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Aside from knowing how to communicate well, it is also paramount that you know how to maintain good interpersonal relations, with employers stating this as the fifth most important skill when considering candidates.

From colleagues and managers to clients and the general public, you must be able to interact with a diverse range of people in a manner that’s professional, respectful and positive. Not only that, interpersonal skills also include being a team player, as well as being able to solve conflicts and disagreements in a constructive way.

Garner this skill by practising active listening, taking the time to listen carefully to what others are saying, considering both verbal and nonverbal cues (e.g. body language). Don’t forget to also practise empathy and consider other perspectives, as things are never black and white.

So, do you have all the five skills listed above? Have an accurate and honest assessment of your current skill set and capabilities so that you can work on improving yourself. It’s never too late to learn. Now go out there and chase the dream job and future that you want.

Worried about your career prospects? Check out this article on the Most In-Demand Jobs in Malaysia and see if your chosen degree is there.

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    Ain Abdullah

    Ain Abdullah

    Literaturist: A permanent tourist in the magical land of Literature. Also, on the highway to fulfilling Crazy-Cat-Lady destiny.