Instructure Blog

According to the National Association of College and Employers’ (NACE) Job Outlook 2017 report, nearly 80 percent of the respondents said the ability to work as a team was the top skill they were looking for in potential employees. While this may sound like a no-brainer, there still seems to be a gap between the skills graduates have and the skills employers want. So, if your crystal ball is broken, here are five skills that recruiters are looking for in job candidates:


Teamwork – This skill is more than getting along with others. It’s also proving you can manage and delegate to others, collaborate, influence, and know when to compromise. You may already have experience with this skill if you’ve been part of any sports clubs, academic teams, or student social committees (e.g., Student or Panhellenic Council).


Problem solving – When faced with a problem, how do you respond? Recruiters need to see your ability to be logical and analytical in solving problems and resolving issues, but also how you approach problems from different angles. Be ready with concrete examples, which can range from finding resolution for a dissatisfied customer at your summer job, to taking a struggling school club and increasing its membership.


Communication – Recruiters want to know you can deliver a clear and concise message to whatever audience you are speaking to. If this is an area you struggle with, consider manning a charity phone bank. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a local improv group, which will not only help your communication skills, but also help you think fast on your feet (another good skill to have).


Leadership – Can you lead by example? Look for ways to demonstrate you know how to motivate people, assign/delegate tasks, and set/meet deadlines. Were you a section leader in the marching band or a team captain? Perhaps you were given additional responsibilities at your job. Carefully consider which of your experiences best showcases your leadership skills and then be ready to talk about them in detail.


Commercial awareness – Sorry. This isn’t about a company’s latest Super Bowl ad. Rather, it’s about having insight into how an industry or company works and the business trends shaping both. Ways you can develop commercial awareness are: setting up Google alerts with specific company and industry terms, following relevant social media feeds, and subscribing to journals and industry magazines.

Honing Your Skills

Now that you have a better idea of what recruiters are looking for, you can be intentional about making sure they are in your bag of tricks.

  • Come up with a plan to obtain relevant work experience and/or volunteer work throughout the school year and even during school breaks.
  • Consistently update your ePortfolio with skills, work experience, and other activities so that recruiters are always looking at the most current information.
  • Visit your school's career services to learn about prep workshops. Also attend careers fairs and employer presentations. The more research you do and practice you have meeting recruiters, the more prepared you’ll be.

Share in the comments any skills which have helped you land a job.

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