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Six Job Skills Employers Look For in New Graduates

Apr 18, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Sure, employers look for the right degree, a good internship experience, a high GPA, and a strong alma mater. But there are also other skills—more intangible, but very important—that employers wish their new graduates have. If you can demonstrate that you have these skills in addition to those listed on the job description, it will give you an edge.

Here’s an overview of the most common job skills employers want in their new graduate employees.

Writing skills

Ask any employer, and it’s likely they’ll tell you that most new graduates are severely lacking in writing skills. Even if writing isn’t in the official job description, you’ll be writing in your next job—even if it’s just emails and memos. And when you make grammatical and spelling mistakes, it reflects poorly on you. If clients and other outsiders see it, it reflects poorly on the company as a whole. If you have excellent writing skills, you’re already ahead of a majority of new graduates.


You may take pride in your leadership skills, but if you’re a new graduate, chances are you won’t be leading the team right away. Employers need to know that you’re equally comfortable working as a member of a team. When going into your interview, be prepared with examples of your work and activities that demonstrate your teamwork skills—as well as your leadership potential.

Business Man With Thumbs Up

Getting the job isn’t easy in today’s economy. And keeping it can be difficult, too—especially if you’re the newest employee in the office and the first to go in case of layoffs.



Strong work ethic

Some new employees are eager to stay late and prove themselves. But others are more interested in life outside of work—and will try to leave early at every opportunity. Even though technology enables employees to work from home in a wide variety of professions, many workplaces are still quite traditional—and expect you to show how hard you’re working by putting in face time. If you can do that as a new employee, you’re likely to gain the appreciation of your more senior co-workers.

Technical skills

Many companies hire young employees with the hope that they can apply their “natural” technical skills—skills it’s assumed you have because you’re young—to the benefit of the company. If you’re not up on the latest social marketing techniques or blogging platforms, gain that knowledge—and you’re likely to be invaluable in a company that doesn’t already have employees with this expertise.

Interpersonal skills

How well do you work with others? And how well do you fit in  with the office culture? Many new graduates have little work experience and struggle to fit in at first. If you have strong interpersonal skills and can interact productively with your team members from day one, you’ll demonstrate your value right away.

Presentation skills

Not everyone is good at public speaking. And the less experienced you are in the job market as a whole, the less likely it will be that you can deliver a strong presentation. If you can demonstrate this skill, it will likely help you in your job search and make you a more compelling candidate.

Business etiquette

Do you understand the basics of how to operate in a professional situation? Can you present yourself with the kind of polish that indicates you’re someone to be taken seriously? Are you the type of person your company would want talking to an important client? Are you thoughtful and polite to everyone, no matter your rank in the company? Many new graduates lack basic etiquette skills because of their lack of job experience, making obvious mistakes such as wearing flip-flops to work in a formal office. Others don’t have the people skills necessary to treat everyone well—no matter how much experience they have, and no matter how many years they’ve been out of college.

Getting the job isn’t easy in today’s economy. And keeping it can be difficult, too—especially if you’re the newest employee in the office and the first to go in case of layoffs. Demonstrate that you have these skills, and you’ll make yourself valuable to the company, your co-workers, and your boss. With strong writing, presentation, teamwork, and business etiquette skills, you will be far ahead of other employees without a lot of job experience—and you’re much more likely to flourish in your first job.


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