Each year the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers to determine the top 10 personal qualities/skills employers seek. Note that the list below emphasizes transferable skills. These are not found in any one particular job or major, but can be gained in a variety of ways including coursework, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, athletics, internships, group projects in the classroom. Encourage your student to participate in activities and jobs outside of the classroom to help them develop and strengthen these important transferable skills.
A good GPA is, of course, important but employers look at other attributes, too. Year after year, the number one skill employers say they want to see in job candidates is good communication skills: the ability to write and speak clearly. Employers also want new hires who have teamwork, problem-solving and analytical skills, and are tech savvy.
Ironically, communication skills not only top employers' list of most-desired skills, but also their list of the skills most lacking in new college graduates. Many employers reported that students have trouble with grammar, can't write and lack presentation skills. Taking technical writing and public speaking courses, practice mock interviews, and going to etiquette or networking programs will offer a head start on these valued skills.
In addition, employers pointed to other skills and attributes that had made their "wish list," and cited those qualities and abilities as lacking in many new college graduates, e.g., relevant work experience, strong work ethic, team work skills, and the like. They also faulted new college graduates for not conducting themselves in a professional manner. What this means is, real-world experience before graduation is very important where a student can build many of the skills employers find lacking. An internship, for example, is not just an opportunity to gain experience, but it's also a setting to learn professional behavior, learn what it means to work in a team, and practice interpersonal communication. An internship or co-op position helps a student see the professional skills employers seek in action and how to fit into the world of work.
(Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers)
Last Updated: 4/23/13