Top 5 Employability Skills

Make them stand out in resumes, cover letters, and interviews

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Employability skills are core skills and traits needed in nearly every job. These are the general skills that make someone employable. Hiring managers almost always look for employees with these skills.

Employability skills sometimes are called foundational skills or job-readiness skills. They are soft skills that allow you to work well with others, apply knowledge to solve problems and fit into any work environment. They also include the professional skills that enable you to be successful in the workplace. These are seen as transferable skills because you can apply them to a job in any industry.

Top Five Employability Skills

There are several employability skills that are of value to employers, but the following five are among the most important. It's important when applying for jobs to convey aptitude in as many of these areas as possible.

Communication

All employers look for job candidates with strong communication skills. These refer to one’s ability to convey information clearly to others. Employers want employees with strong written, verbal, and nonverbal communication skills. Part of being a strong communicator also includes being a good listener; employees need to be able to understand the questions and concerns of their clients and listen to their employer’s directions.

Teamwork

Teamwork is important in almost any work setting. If an employee works on a number of group projects, she needs to be able to get along well with others, sharing the workload with colleagues to complete a goal. Even if an employee does not do a lot of team projects, he still needs to be able to get along with his colleagues, working hard to achieve the company goals.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking refers to one’s ability to understand, analyze, and interpret information and draw conclusions. In any job, an employee will have to assess situations and solve problems. Employees need to think logically and make reasoned judgments.

Ethics

Ethics is a broad category that refers to an employee’s principles. Companies want employees who understand and follow company rules, are honest and trustworthy and act professionally and responsibly.

Information Technology (IT) Knowledge

While most employability skills are soft skills, IT is a hard skill that is increasingly required in many jobs. While jobs in the field of IT (such as computer programmers) require extensive IT knowledge, every job requires a little bit of experience with information technology. Employers want job candidates who can use common programs like Microsoft Office, especially Word and Excel. Perhaps most important is the ability to learn and adapt to new or changing technologies quickly and efficiently.

Any other IT experience is almost always considered a plus.

How to Use Keywords

Keywords are words or terms you should include in your resume and cover letter and during your interview. The right keywords can let employers know that you have the employability skills they are seeking, and they often can increase the likelihood of your application being noticed when applying electronically. Many employers' online application programs use algorithms that search for the proper keywords.

Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer. In addition to the top five skills listed, these are a few additional keywords worth including in many job applications: