Essential Skills Employers Want

When asked to rate the career readiness competencies of college graduates in terms of “essential need,” employers regarded four competencies as vital, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

NACE’s Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update survey found critical thinking/problem solving, professionalism/work ethic, teamwork, and communications skills to be “essential” and “absolutely essential” in the college graduates they are looking to hire.

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.

Professionalism/Work Ethic: Personal accountability, integrity, and effective work habits, punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understanding the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image.

Teamwork: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure, and can negotiate and manage conflict.

Communications: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.


1. Communication skills
2. Organizational skills
3. Writing skills
4. Customer service
5. Leadership
6. Problem-solving
7. Planning
8. Management
9. Attention to detail
10. Research