What Skills Do Employers Look For?

Our last blog was looking at the academic skills you are developing now through your studies. This one is looking at skills from a slightly different angle and what skills do employers want to see in their applicants. Obviously there will be some very technical skills that are often required for specific roles, e.g. computer programmer, landscape designer, teaching and network manager spring to mind, amongst others. But alongside technical skills, employers want a range of generic skills too – and these are often seen as just as important. In fact, sometimes more so – technical skills can be taught in a workplace far easier than some generic skills, once the employer is happy you’ve got the right aptitudes for the role.

Prospects (www.prospects.ac.uk) are a well known organisation, who provide a lot of LMI (labour market information) aimed at 6th formers and graduates. They’ve provided a list of skills that employers look for (https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/applying-for-jobs/what-skills-do-employers-want). Lets take a look at them in more detail.


How good are you at dealing with ‘bumps in the road’ or setbacks? Do you cope well with change or unexpected things happening? Your experience of coping with Covid for the last 2 years will hopefully have developed your resilience somewhat! This isn’t about you sticking your head in the sand when the unexpected happens but more about how you adapt to changing circumstances.

Commercial Awareness

How many of you regularly watch Dragons Den or The Apprentice? Are you shocked at the lack of business ‘know how’ some of the candidates have or are you pleasantly surprised at how much some of them know or have achieved already? Commercial awareness is all about your understanding of how a business may operate, its market position and what its trying to achieve. When you apply for a position at any firm, either as an A level leaver or graduate entry, you should do a lot of this research, as it will improve your application! But commercial awareness is more than just knowing about a company’s business. Any work experience, internships or side hustles you’ve had will have given you a wider sense of how business works – this will all help you demonstrate how commercially aware you are.

Communication Skills

These were mentioned in the last blog about academic skills too! Being able to listen well and get across your point of view is really important, regardless of the career or study setting. By developing some really good communication skills, not only will you be a more effective communicator but you will also avoid misunderstandings that could need resolving at a later point.

Effective Leadership and Management

You may not be applying for a management job straight after finishing your education. But employers will often view their A level or graduate joiners as their future managers and leaders. Showing that you can work with others and help get progress happening with projects will showcase your potential.

Planning and Research Skills

Even now you will be developing these skills. And yes, research skills came up in our last blog too. Employers are very keen for you to be as effective as possible – they will be paying you a very decent salary hopefully! In return, they will want you to be able to plan your time well, to ensure that projects are on target or clients you are working with are kept happy. Research skills are crucial to enable you to effectively do your job, whether it’s as a clinical scientist, journalist or whatever else you might be doing.


Everyone has had to demonstrate adaptability over the last few years. And with hybrid working and studying likely to be a permanent feature for the future, it’s important to show how adaptable you can be. Not just for employers though, your own career planning may need to incorporate this skill – you may need to show adaptability in where you physically work (anyone fancy working in Paris, Berlin or New York for a period of time?), you might also find that there are patches of time in your career when you are self employed or working for an employer for a limited time on a project. The more adaptable you are, the greater the range of opportunities you’ll have! Work for you isn’t just about the opportunities in your area any more!


Being able to work well with others is something you’ll probably already identified as what employers look for. Look around you now, I’m sure you can reel off who are the better team players around you. What makes them better at it? Often its using skills like communication and adaptability, so in some ways this is a bit of a ‘cheat’ answer as it builds on other skills! Part of it is also about mindset too though, where being able to ensure other people’s strengths and contributions are valued and not competing with a ‘look at me’ approach.

There are a range of useful websites you can use to find out more, for instance https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/skills-for-getting-a-job/what-are-top-10-skills-thatll-get-you-job-when-you-graduate and https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-skills-employers-want-2062481, so why not find out a bit more?

The most important thing is to remember is that you are developing lots of skills at the moment, through your academic studies, sport, hobbies and any volunteering you are doing. Employers will want you to demonstrate how you have got these skills! Hopefully you’ve found what skills do employers look for, useful but feel free to review more of our articles to help you make the best choices for your future.

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