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5 Skills Employers Look for in Entry-Level Employees

by | Apr 28, 2021 | Productivity, Student Life

The 5 top skills employers look for are leadership, communication, problem-solving, work ethic, and teamwork. These are important skills to highlight in your job search, but continue to work on them while in a new job.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills and Transferable Skills

A nurse speaking to a patient.
Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

Skills come in two different types, hard skills, and soft skills. 

Hard skills are teachable and learnable technical skills. The hard skills you need for a job will depend on what field. But, a few broad ones are analytical skills, design skills, and management skills. 

Soft skills are interpersonal skills. These can be referred to as being more important because they cannot be taught on the job as easy as hard skills are. For example, there is no training to teach you how to have a work ethic. Therefore, soft skills are highly valued when it comes to hiring an entry-level employee! The top 5 skills are all soft skills. 

It is important to incorporate both hard and soft skill sets into a resume. 

Another type of skill is transferable skills. This just means that if you obtain a skill such as computer skills, that skill will transfer into other areas like Microsoft word and excel skills. Also, skills can transfer over job types. If you are a nurse and develop the ability to be a leader by leading other nurses, that skill can transfer if an individual chooses to change their career path. With those skills, it is important to frame them appropriately, which increases employability. 

What are the Top 5 Skills?

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Leadership

Leadership leads to success in an organization, therefore, it is desirable to have leadership skills in an entry-level employee. Although being a leader is not an easy task and it is not a skill that everyone has.

Specific skills within the broad skill of leadership are self-development, team development, critical thinking, ethical decisions, and innovation.

Communication

According to the 2018 survey by NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, verbal communication skills are ranked first in a job candidate’s skills and qualities. 

Communication skills are skills that everyone can continue to develop and grow throughout their lives. We communicate vocally, visually, written, or non-verbally. Show communication through the job process by having a well-developed resume that is worded with proper grammar and displays your experience the best it can. You may have experience but are you communicating that experience effectively to the employer? Then, express that communication through the interviews by preparing properly and understanding the STAR method for answering questions in an interview. 

Other skills that relate to communication are active listening, social skills, and a positive attitude. 

Problem-Solving

Problem-solving skills are necessary every single day. But are you correctly solving problems in an effective manner? That is what organizations are looking for. Not every problem is solved the same but there are great formats to practice with. 

Other skills that die into problem-solving are creativity, research, team working, emotional intelligence, and decision making. 

Work Ethic

Having a strong work ethic means that you are able to focus on tasks and get them done in an effective manner. Focus and work ethic ties together well. It takes training sometimes and forming good habits. The skills related to work ethic is organization and focus, project management, and time management. 

Teamwork

Almost every job requires employees to work together in a team format at some point. Therefore, a hiring manager will consider if you will mesh well with those teams as a team player. While not all teams work well together, it is important to prove your ability to be an adaptable team member.

Other skills that are related are collaboration, leadership, critical thinking, listening, communication skills, and planning.

How to Get Those Skills

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Photo by Frank Romero on Unsplash

Leadership

To show yourself as a leader, consider being on the executive board of a club. Take lead on group projects and showing that you took that lead. Improve by having a high level of participation and this will show. Beyond college, continuing to educate yourself on leadership practices, having a mentor for leading who is a leader, and shadowing leadership roles. Having a graduate education can help leadership skills, but typically not required for entry-level jobs. 

Communication

Focus on the seven C’s of communication. Those are clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous. Also, consider the elements of credibility and creativity. 

Use it as a checklist when drafting written communication. Especially your resume. Are your bullet points following these? Does your cover letter hit each of these points?

Practice this in all communication, verbal and written. This will show through in your resume, cover letter, and job interview. 

Problem-Solving

Problem-solving will be needed at every job. To improve your problem-solving skills, follow the Seven Steps to Bullet-Proof Problem Solving Skills are:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Disaggregate the issues
  3. Prioritize the issues, prune the tree
  4. Build a work plan and timetable
  5. Conduct critical analyses
  6. Synthesize findings from the analysis
  7. Prepare a powerful communication

Work Ethic

Creating a work ethic can be difficult and sometimes individuals can just write it off as if they just aren’t that type of person. But, everyone can build a better, more effective work ethic that is suited for them. Treat your body right, eliminate distractions, set standards for yourself, be dependable, and have a flexible schedule when work allows for it. 

Teamwork

To improve upon your ability to work in a team by learning about The Five Roles of an Effective Team. These roles are leader, creative director, facilitator, coach, and member. Figure out the best role for you and identify yourself as such. This way, the employer can see which role you fit in and if that role will actually work with the team of co-workers that they are hiring for.

To learn more about the job market and how to apply for jobs in specific fields, read more on the blog. But, also listen on the podcast for exclusive information directly from companies with internships and entry-level roles open!

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Join The Community

Want early access to insights, content, and news about your dream employer? Join our community! We send one email per week so we won't clutter your inbox.

Congrats! You've taken the step to gain early access to information about your dream employers.

The Report Card: January 2021

Download this month's employer branding report to keep your company up to date.

Enjoy the news!

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