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8 Employability Skills Recruiters Look Out For

Updated on Nov 06, 2020 12444 views
8 Employability Skills Recruiters Look Out For

Can you say you have what it takes to make hiring managers fight for you?

This should not come as a surprise at all.

Recruiters look for  job candidates that can do the job, these kinds of candidates have acquired some skills that employers consider as important.

A recruiter considers a candidate’s skill as a measurement of the job candidate’s ability to do the job, and you know every recruiter want to hire someone that can do the job. 

What are these skills that recruiters consider important and how can I put them on my CV?

You are few seconds away from the answer. In this article, you are going to find out:

  • What soft skills are and why recruiters consider them as important
  • A list of the soft skills that are in high demand, their meanings, and sub-categories.
  • How to identify top skills for a job that you are applying for and how to represent them on your CV


What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills refers to a set of transferable skills that ca determine an employee’s success on the job to a large extent. It may not be easy to giv out a clear-cut definition to soft skills. Soft skills simply mean skills that are required to do a job, but are not specific to a particular job.

Soft skills include: interpersonal skills, empathy, emotional intelligence, communication skills, etc. These skills are not easy to measure and quantify. Most time it is difficult to acquire these skills, but with constant deliberate efforts you can imbibe them or even improve on some tiny traits that you have already. 

Soft skills are also referred to as transferrable skills, but what does transferable even mean?

Transferable means that it is not tied to a specific job, they are skills that are needed regardless of the job that you are doing. This simply means that you can transfer your abilities in these skills to perform any job.

To make this clear, let us look at this example:

Let’s imagine you have problem-solving skills and you work as a computer programmer. As a computer programmer, you would mainly create solutions through the codes that you write. Having a strong problem-solving skill will help you create better solutions as a computer programmer.

From the example above, you see that you have been able to transfer your problem-solving skills to your job as a programmer to create solutions. 

Now you have an understanding of what soft skills are, but why do employers values soft skills a lot?

The truth is that employers consider soft skills as important because:

  • They look forward to hiring someone that has the ability to drive the company towards the path of success.
  • Recruiters want to hire someone that can collaborate with others leveraging on their soft skills to achieve success. 

Many recruiters would choose soft skills over hard skills because it is easier to teach someone hard skills like teaching them how to use a soft ware. On the contrary, it is difficult to teach someone a soft skill like problem-solving. 

So a recruiter will rather employ a job candidate with critical-thinking and maybe problem-solving skills and then maybe teach them how to use software. 

These are the skills that employers consider important:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Collaboration skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Marketing skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills

Now, let’s take a look at the employability skills that we have talked about one after the other and see why they are important.

Ready, let’s go?

1. Critical Thinking

A recent report by the AACU revealed that 93% of employers value critical thinking over a candidate’s undergraduate degree. So, what is critical thinking and is it so important?

Critical thinking is simply your ability to objectively analyze information and then make a reasonable judgment afterwards. The process of critical thinking involves the evaluation of information sources and research findings.

One can say he/she is a good critical thinker if he can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information to solve a problem or make a decision. 

Why Employers Value Critical Thinking Skills

Every employer wants to hire a job candidate that can evaluate a particular situation and then offer a suitable solution through calculated logical thoughts. This is exactly what critical thinking helps you achieve. 

When you think critically, you will constantly challenge the present situation of things.

For example; let’s imagine you are a marketing executive in your company and sales seem to be moving on fine. Being a critical thinker will not just help you observe and evaluate the current situation, but will also help you identify new and better solutions for your company.

Critical thinking is the bedrock of growth and development, which is what every employer strives to accomplish.

 What are the Top Critical Thinking Skills?

When we talk about critical thinking, there are different abilities that people display that suggests that they are critical thinkers. These are some of the top critical thinking skills:

  • Data analysis skills
  • Research skills 
  • Data interpretation skills
  • Questioning skills
  • Assessment skills
  • Conceptualization skills
  • Imaginative skills
  • Objectivity         
  • Observation
  • Reflection
  • Attention to details
  • Innovation
  • Adaptability
  • Business intelligence 
  • Business intelligence 

These are some of the top critical thinking skills.

How to Add your Critical Thinking Skills to your CV

We have already stated that critical thinking is one of the most important skills that hiring managers look forward to seeing in a job candidate.

Since this is an important skill you need to thrive in the workplace, how, then, can you add it to your CV to make hiring managers know that you are a great critical thinker?

This is simple; add critical thinking keywords to your CV. You can add critical thinking keywords (objectivity, analysis, observation, etc.) to your CV when describing your work experience. 

When describing your work experience or personal statement, include all the critical thinking skills listed above that accurately describes you. 

For example, if you are a marketing executive you can add some critical thinking skills to your personal statements like this.

I am a marketing executive with 4 years of experience in business analysis; skilled in conducting a thorough market research and competitor analysis to assess market trends and customers’ needs. All of which are targeted towards solving problems and creating solutions. 

How to Mention Critical Thinking Skills During your Interview

To mention these skills to the hiring manager during your interview, you can discuss a time when you faced with a particular challenge at work and how you were able to solve them or a time when you evaluated and analyzed a set of data to solve a problem.

Sometimes, an interviewer can give you a hypothetical question that will require you to use critical thinking to solve it. To answer this kind of question, you have to explain your entire thought process to your interviewer through critical thinking.

It is important for you to know that each job requires different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus more on the skills listed by the employer. 


2. Problem-solving Skills

What is problem solving?

Problem-solving sounds pretty self explanatory. It is simply the ability to solve problems, right? While not incorrect, it is not all this vast, but widely sought after skill entails. The modern workplace is rife with situations that would prove grueling even to the most prepared person.

Unlike before were all disciplinary actions were meted out irrespective of severity, these issues should only be approached with delicate gloves and with sensitivity.

As stated earlier, problems vary. The problem could be within the company or out of it. It could be easy to work out or rather cumbersome. Either way, there are four key steps to approach problem resolution:

What are Problem-solving Skills?

Before you even think of providing solution(s) to a problem, you first observe and accurately pinpoint the cause the cause of the problem. 

Usually, problem-solving skills are treated as a stand-alone. When in reality, there are other related areas of expertise interwoven into this employability skill. They are as follows:

  • Effective listening
  • Analysis
  • Research
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Reliability
  • Decision making
  • Team-building

How to Include Problem-Solving Skills in Your CV

Put the relevant problem-solving skills on your resume that are tailored to the position you’re applying for. During an interview, portray a scenario where your problem-solving skills were utilized in resolving an issue.

3. Analytical Skills

These days, finding a job that does not call for the employee to have analysis skills is extremely slim. Analytical skills are central to employee output. They are a set of abilities that enable you to gather, organize, sort and conceptualize data into a final product that suits the purpose for which it was done.

Analytical Skills work in close association with research skills. In other words, before analyzing a piece of information you must have first researched it adequately before delving into the more technical part of sifting through for applicable solution.

Analytical skills are technical and they take time to master. Many times, they are tentative and are not cut and dry. So, quite unlike the other employability skills, you should have a semblance of analytical competence before even applying for the job. 

Why Do Employers Look Out for Analytical Skills?

As pointed earlier, very rarely do job offers that omit analytical skills in their list of requirements go up these days. In other words, it is a necessity to possess these capabilities in order to fit into a workplace, or in this case, get the job in the first place.

In all, analytical skills include the following:

How to Improve Your Analytical Skills

  • Seek leadership roles that require the application of critical analytical skills
  • Practice the constant  use of analytical skills in your day-to-day life 
  • Take classes and courses to help sharpen your analytical skills 
  • Take part in activities that require the use of analytical skills such as games, questions and answers or reading
  • Undergoing mentorship from professionals in your field or desired industry
  • Research on practices most applicable for your industry
  • Improve your subject-matter knowledge, which is essential to faster problem-solving   

4. Collaboration Skills                                                           

The statement, ‘no man is an island’ rings especially true in the workplace. As John Donne famously put it, No one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others. Hence, this is why employers place collaboration skills high up on their list of requirements. 

What is Collaboration?

Collaboration is the action of working together with one person or more to achieve a goal. Since businesses are human centered, collaborations are indispensable in conducting businesses. As an employee you cannot evade partnering with people, irrespective of how big or small the organization you work for is.

Like many things in life, collaborations are not always smooth. After all, people interpret things differently; they work at different paces; have different attitudes to work and not to mention how conflicts can arise. 

However problematic collaborations may seem, they are unavoidable in the workplace and all aspects of human relations in general. As a result of this, you must be in possession of adequate skills that would help navigate the waters of business relations.

In addition to being necessary for workplace conduct, collaborations can also be beneficial to you. For one, it provides an avenue for you gain from other members of a team. Since no one can possibly know all, you can learn from people with other areas of expertise that defer from yours.

 When relating with others on a professional scale, you notice your own weaknesses and areas of shortcoming. Through this, you can work on these deficiencies and add more capabilities to your skill set.

As teamwork, they say, is the dream work, collaborations ultimately reduce your work load and leads to more efficiency. Usually, the task is divided among team members based on their areas of expertise (subgroups might also be formed). Thus, the burden of having to deal with an aspect of the task that is out of your comfort zone.

5. Collaboration skills

So as to obtain hitch free collaborations at the workplace, the following must be done to improve collaboration skills:

  • Establish a common purpose and goal.
  • Team members should trust one another.
  • There should respect for each participant and open mindedness.
  • Open and effective communication should be enforced.
  • There should be willingness to contribute across board.
  • Balance the team focus and empower the members.

6. Leadership Skills                                        

There is no universally accepted definition of what a good leader is. To different people, it means a different thing. 

Leadership skills are useful when you are assembling a group of people together to achieve a goal. Leadership roles vary. You can be an executive level leader (C-suite), or a project /unit leader. Either way, leadership skills are important to navigate the corporate world. 

This usually involves encouraging people to finish a task, collaborate with other team members within a set period of time to achieve a common goal. 

Like other skills, leadership skills are not a stand-alone. They are made up of different capabilities that work hand-in-hand to make you sellable as a job seeker.

Key leadership skills employers demand are:

  • Strategic thinking 
  • People management 
  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Effective listening
  • Reliability
  • Creativity
  • Positivity
  • Effective feedback
  • Communication
  • Team building
  • Flexibility
  • Risk-taking         
  • Ability to teach and mentor

6. Marketing Skills 

The aim of every business is to reach and provide services to as many as people as possible. This is where marketing comes in. With technological advancement, marketing has expectedly evolved from the traditional means of dissemination. 

As a result of the birth of the internet age, digital marketing came up. While online marketing makes it easier to reach your target audience seemingly easily it is actually demanding. The organisation has to keep up with the ever-changing trends and as a result the demand for people who are skilled in digital marketing. 

What are the Qualities of a Good Marketer?

Marketing is a skill that takes time to cultivate and master. It would involve a lot of trial and error, and since it is a trend-fueled field, it requires constant learning. They are:

- Analytical skills

Marketing ultimately involves research, data collation and interpretation. So, if you want to sell yourself as a marketer (digital or not), you must be a good analyst. 

These days, employers can easily track the result of a marketer’s efforts by consulting key performance indicators that show if your input is yielding any result:

- Communication 

The essence of communication cannot be stressed enough. Since marketing involves connecting with individuals and trying to establish a relationship between them and the brand, the only way to achieve is by communicating with them. 

Perhaps the most vital rule a digital marketer should abide by is to know your audience.  When you know the audience to cater to, half of your problem has been solved.

As a good marketer serves as a representative of a brand, you must have the ability to relay relevant information to your audience sincerely and clearly to avoid miscommunication. 

- Writing

Employers typically want to employ a marketer that writes pretty well, because it cannot be divorced from the overall function of a good marketer. 

This might be writing a social media post, making a blog entry, drafting an email, marketers need to have strong writing skills as some digital marketers double as content writers. 

- Visual editing

If you are a digital marketer, visuals are important in appealing to your audience.  Learning visual editing would easily stand you out as marketer. Visual editing includes word processing, document creation programs, including simple text programs like canva and Pablo.

- Creativity 

Being creative is one of the most important qualities of a good marketer. As digital marketing is hugely influenced by things in vogue, you must constantly think out of the box, while still being trendy in a way that stands you out among many.

- Teamwork 

As a marketer, you would inevitably works with other people. So, having the skills that would enable these interactions as seamlessly as possible is essential.

- Curiosity 

The desire to learn new things should be a guiding principle as a digital marketer. You must be inquisitive and attentive to things. Curiosity would also help you understand other people’s perspectives, as it is a skill that requires paying full attention to things. 

7. Interpersonal Skills

Top of the list of recruiters' employability skills are interpersonal skills. They involve interacting with, relating to and working with others. In other words, interpersonal skills are about relationships and are sometimes referred to as people skills.

Interpersonal skills are not just about building any kind of relationships, though. Emphasis is placed on building healthy relationships in a way that benefits the participants and helps achieve the company's goals.

It is your interpersonal skills that you employ when communicating with people and they especially come into play when interviewing for a job.

What are the Interpersonal Skills that Would Benefit a Job Seeker?

  • Active listening
  • Teamwork
  • Responsibility
  • Dependability
  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Flexibility
  • Patience
  • Empathy

8. Communication Skills

Human existence and relationships would virtually be non-existent without communication. As Paul Watzlawick famously said  'One cannot not communicate'. It is what enables humans share information from person-to-person, on end to another. 

Merriam-Webster defines communication as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.

From the above, we can see that for communication to take place, a piece of information must be shared. It is not alone to something alone; it must be done using an understandable means. That is, in a work place where English is the standard means of communication, you impulsively speaking, say, Swahili would lead to ineffective communication.

In essence, it is not just to communicate for the sake of it, but to communicate effectively. There are three types of communication. 

1. Verbal or oral communication; in which case is spoken.

2. Written or visual communication (maps, charts, insignias, logos etc.), written (books, websites, magazines, electronic mails, fax and so on)

3. Non-verbal (space, time, physical characteristics, body movements, touch, paralanguage, artifacts, and environment). 

Most times, communication involves a combination of these variations. 

Career wise, the importance of communication cannot be stressed enough. It is needed to secure a job; it is needed for a productive performance of the job; it is needed to advance in your career. Learning the jargon of your profession is important; as is, tailoring your language to communicate with your audience. Well-maintained eye contact, active listening, proper presentation, concise and well-structured writing among other skills are needed professionally. 

What are the Good Communication Skills Employers Look Out for?

Employers usually look out for certain skills that qualify you as a good communicator. They are:

  • Good listening 
  • Friendliness 
  • Clarity
  • Non-verbal cues
  • Empathy 
  • Confidence 
  • Open mindedness 
  • Ability to give feedback 

Remember that for your job interviews, verbal communication skills matter the most, since you have to sell yourself as the best candidate to the recruiters. 

Prepare beforehand, make sure you understand the question you are being asked, make use of pleasantries when necessary; take note of the body language of the interviewer(s). If you do not understand the question, ask that it be made clear to you and do not be afraid to ask your own relevant questions if and when the opportunity is presented to you.

When you get the job, do not renege on practicing good communication skills, as they would be necessary for productivity at work.

Finally, while being all-rounder is admirable, it is important you highlight the soft skills you are well versed in and not just pad your resume with all the skills you think are sellable to recruiters. Remember that your resume would likely be screened the Applicant Tracking System.

To know more about the Applicant Tracking System and how to create a resume that passes it, read here


Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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