Skills that Employers Are Looking For

Written by
Blossom Kafumbata
Last Updated
August 2, 2021 9:21

Amongst the myriad of things that worries every university student, the issue of trying to figure out what exactly it is that employers are looking for looms large. We all enrol into university, aiming to eventually get a good job with good money that compensates for the amount spent on educating ourselves. Personally, l have found myself stuck in a constant loop of trying to redo and undo my CV so as to showcase the skills that l think might make me more appealing to a recruitment officer somewhere out there who has read thousands of CV’s of equally or even more amazing candidates. Now, the big question is  how can we distinguish ourselves in a pool of competitive job seekers? Is there a magic ingredient which would make your CV the meal of choice? Here is a list of some of the top skills that employers are looking for (obviously there are many others but this is a good start). 

1.Problem solving and critical thinking skills

 The fact of the matter is that employers are actively looking for skilled people who they can pay to add value to their companies. In a world where huge returns are rewarded to those who can solve the various problems that the world is facing, it’s not surprising that critical thinking and problem-solving skills are some of the top skills that employers are looking for. Going out of your way to show on your CV that you have had experiences through which your problem-solving skills have been sharpened is worth the extra time investment to distinguish yourself.

Problem solving skills are connected to several other skills, including:

  • Analytical skills
  • Innovative and creative thinking
  • A lateral mindset
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Initiative
  • Resilience(in order to reassess when your idea doesn’t work)
  • Teamwork
  • Influencing skills(to get colleagues, clients and bosses to adopt your solutions)

Identifying a problem is often the keystone in the formation of a new business or product idea- and as such, problem solving is an essential component of entrepreneurialism. It is also a major component of good leadership.

2. Commercial awareness (or business acumen)

Showing that you know the business as its own entity and the various factors that affect it can vastly help in the interview stage to land you that coveted job. Commercial awareness is about showing that you understand what the organisation wants to achieve through its products and services, and how it competes in its marketplace.

How then can one gain this commercial awareness? This can be done by  conducting thorough research on the employer immediately before you apply – but you can start to develop your general knowledge of the industries you wish to enter and your awareness of political and economic events well in advance of applying. Candidates who make a concerted effort to gain commercial awareness for the year or so before applying for jobs should be in a strong position.

Follow industry news – try setting up email alerts on specific search terms, follow relevant Twitter feeds and read industry news online. If industry news sites are behind paywalls, check if your university department has a subscription to them or if they offer deals for student subscribers. Along similar lines, your university library or careers service should have a print or online subscription to a range of business magazines, including The Economist and the Financial Times. These are excellent for giving you an overview of the world’s political and economic state.


Bear in mind, too, that any practical workplace experience gained via an internship or a part-time job will help you acquire commercial understanding – particularly if you observe commercial or resource decisions being made.

3.  Teamwork

You'll need to prove that you're a team player but also can manage and delegate to others and take on responsibility. It's about building positive working relationships that help everyone to achieve goals and business objectives. Partaking in different activities where teamwork is involved is a good start in gaining experience that can be reflected upon in your CV.


4. Communication

This covers verbal and written communication as well as listening. It's about being clear, concise and focused; being able to tailor your message for the audience and listening to the views of others. A breakdown in communication can have devastating effects on not only the working relationships with colleagues, but with clients as well. Communication is more of a package than an individual skill:

  • Communication is not just what you say; it is also how you present yourself.
  • Being able to phrase the right questions is an important skill.
  • Not saying too much is also part of good communication.
  • Understanding your audience and tailoring what you say is essential to graduate job hunters' success.

5. Organisation

Organisation is about showing that you can prioritise, work efficiently and productively and manage your time well. It shows employers that you can decide what is important to focus on and how to handle deadlines.

There are so many other skills that are good to have in your skills basket and these will be expanded more in future blogs. Watch this space. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to get notified of new posts on our website and follow us @project_ignite_her on instagram to see more bite sized content.



Blossom is the Content Manager and Cheif Editor for Project Ignite Her

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