5 Skills that Employers Seek

Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC

Employers are looking to hire college graduates who can demonstrate themselves to be the best of the best. Below are the top five skills that employers look for in hiring an entry-level employee. In your time at college, we recommend developing these skills through academics, jobs, and extracurricular activities.

1. Verbal Communication Skills

No matter what your major or what field you hope to enter after college, you will need to know how to talk to people. Active participation in class, meetings with professors, and membership in student organizations can help you become a better communicator. UMBC also offers courses in interpersonal and intercultural communications.

2. Strong Work Ethic

Employers seek graduates who will work hard once hired. They don’t expect expertise from an entry-level employee. But, if you demonstrate that you’re willing to put in the work to improve your skills and produce results, you’ll go far in any field. When you get your first job, your GPA will often be used as an indicator of your work ethic, so it’s important to keep your grades up.

3. Teamwork Skills

Not everyone loves group projects when they’re required for class. But out in the workplace, collaborative projects are common, if not the norm. Your ability to work with a group of peers and to fit in well with the team is extremely important to employers. Academic group work, sports teams, fraternities and sororities, and on-campus jobs are particularly useful in developing teamwork skills.

4. Analytical Skills

The core responsibility in any position is to solve problems. To effectively solve problems, you have to be able to think critically about the task at hand. Employers want to hire graduates who know how to analyze problems and evaluate solutions. Essays, presentations, and any other projects that require you to develop and defend an argument will all hone your analytical skills.

5. Initiative

You should aim to be a “self-starter.” Take on tasks and projects before someone asks you to. Anticipate a problem and solve it before it happens. Join a club, get a job, do volunteer work. When you take responsibility for your own success, employers will notice.


(Adapted from Job Outlook 2011, National Association of Colleges and Employers)