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The skills employers are looking for

Depending on what role you are applying for, the employer will set out what specific skills they are looking for in applicants. The job description will specify if there are essential requirements it wants and you will need to show you meet these in your application.

For more tips on this, visit the Writing a great job application section.

However, there are other skills that employers will look for, which are sometimes known as ‘soft’ or ‘generic’ skills. These are transferable skills that are necessary in most types of employment, and they are usually personality traits rather than technical skills.

Check out the Key Advice box below to see some of the most important transferable skills that employers will be looking out for:

Key Advice


It is essential that you know how to work as part of a team. This means communicating effectively with your colleagues, co-operating with each other, knowing your own roles and responsibilities and how they fit into the team’s overall goals and working with everyone to achieve them. A good team player also gives and takes constructive suggestions and listens to and supports others. Good team leaders can also impress an employer – those who are able to use their initiative, be proactive, are motivated and are eager to improve themselves.

Time Management and Organisation

You need to be able to manage your time well to ensure all your tasks are completed on time. This means being organised, knowing what needs finishing when and being able to prioritise tasks to evaluate which is the most important to complete first and which are less urgent. A lot of the time, you will be working on several different projects at once, so being able to manage your time effectively is essential.


Communication is a key skill required for any job. As part of your role, you will often need to interact with a variety of different people, including colleagues, other organisations and members of the public of all ages and backgrounds. You will also need to interact with them in a variety of different ways, such as in face-to-face conversations, emails and telephone calls. Therefore, it is important that you are able to listen to and understand what others are saying, and be able to articulate your own points effectively and in a non-aggressive manner. You will also often need to be able to communicate with people for varying purposes, which might involve handling conflict or providing effective customer service.

Problem Solving

Employers value those who are able to use logic, initiative and creativity to tackle any problems or potential issues that arise. It is preferable that you are able to provide some sort of solution to a problem that has come about in your role, instead of just ignoring it.

Decision Making

It is important that you are able to make decisions in the work place. This will involve gathering information or researching a project, considering alternative ways to carry out work, seeking advice from other people and being aware of the consequences of your decisions. Being able to put your thoughts into ideas shows good decision making.

Working under Pressure

Everyone has to work under pressure at some point in their job, and employers are looking for people who can remain calm and focused despite being under stress to complete the job. It is important to not let the pressure get to you, so you are able to concentrate on getting the work done quickly, but without letting it affect the quality of the work.


Many job roles are varied and require you to carry out different types of work or focus on several projects simultaneously. In jobs like this, it is a huge benefit if you are able to work outside of your comfort zone and try something you haven’t done before. Employers are looking for positive people with a ‘can-do’ attitude.


In your job, you will have your own roles and responsibilities. Employers are looking for people who will be dedicated to carrying out their work and who take pride in it. They also want people to be able to accept responsibility for any mistakes they make. Remember, everyone makes mistakes but employers will respect those who admit to them and are able to learn from them.


Employers are looking for people who are enthusiastic and commited to their work.  It is important that you show employers you are reliable and are someone they can depend on to carry out the work under little supervision.