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My Degree & Skills

What are the top skills employers are looking for?

What are the top skills employers are looking for?

Employers want to hire people with the best combination of the transferable and technical skills (and personal attributes) required to be successful in the role they are trying to fill.

A recent study done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed thousands of employers to determine the seven most sought-after competencies they were looking for in new employees, something they refer to as “career readiness.” According to NACE, career readiness is the “attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies” that broadly prepare university graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.
  • Oral/Written Communication: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.
  • Teamwork/Collaboration: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure, and can negotiate and manage conflict.
  • Information Technology Application: Select and use appropriate technology to accomplish a given task. The individual is also able to apply computing skills to solve problems.
  • Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic: Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, (e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management), and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from his/her mistakes.
  • Career Management: Identify and articulate one's skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.

We’ve outlined the seven most sought–after competencies employers are currently looking for in new employees according to the National Association of College and Employers. What about the competencies that could help you navigate the future world of work and learning? What skills, abilities and knowledge could help you succeed in a future characterized by AI, robotics, the ‘gig’ economy and a need for lifelong learning? UWaterloo has developed the Future Ready Talent Framework, a tool to help you understand more about the future of work and how you can prepare for success.

Read the full NACE article here. Compare this to a recent Canadian study done by the Conference Board of Canada, which can be found here.

University of Waterloo

Centre for Career Development