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What skills do employers want?

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Despite the large number of applications per job recruiters are struggling to find candidates with the right skills. But what skills do employers look for and how can you sell these on your CV?

Your degree will have provided you with a whole host of subject-specific and transferrable skills. Despite this it’s imperative that you convey how you’ve gained the core attributes that you think would make you a worthwhile addition to the organisation.

Here are some of the most common key skills that graduate employers expect you to demonstrate. It’s vital that you understand these skills, and how you can show that you’ve developed them, in order to write a successful job application.


This refers to your ability to deal with setbacks, and is something that graduate employers have increasingly started to consider. How well do you cope with stressful situations or when something goes wrong? How do you react to unexpected changes or problems that occur during a project?

You aren’t expected to be unaffected by these events, but you need to be able to show that you react to them positively and are able to develop strategies to deal with them.

Commercial awareness

Also known as business acumen, this is all about understanding how an industry or particular organisation works – where it sits in the market, who its competitors are and having knowledge of current developments in the field.

To exhibit commercial awareness you’ll need to show you’ve done your research on the company and the sector it sits in. Membership of a professional organisation or relevant work experience can also be used to illustrate this skill.

Good communication

This is about how clearly you put across your ideas and your ability to listen to others. Employers will be keen to see how you build rapport, persuade and negotiate.

Use your CV or application form to outline specific written and verbal examples of when you’ve put these skills into practice. This might be any public speaking you’ve done, or writing for a student newspaper, for example. Show how you tailored your message to the target audience.

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