Posted November 04, 2011 by

Teamwork, Verbal Communication Top “Soft Skills” Employers Seek in Job Candidates

What “soft skills” do employers see as most important in potential employees?

Employers looking to hire new college graduates place the ability to work in a team at the top of the list, according to a new survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Among employers taking part in NACE’s Job Outlook 2012 survey, verbal communication skills; decision-making/problem-solving skills; the ability to obtain and process information; and the ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work rounded out the top five “soft skills.” (See Figure 1.)

Marilyn Mackes of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Marilyn Mackes of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

But employers look for much more in prospective employees, says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. “Employers also reported a preference for candidates who have some type of relevant work experience, and those who have held a leadership position,” says Mackes. “These offer some evidence of the candidate’s ability to perform successfully.”

In addition, in this tight employment market, nearly three-quarters of employers said they use GPA, typically 3.0 or above, to help them screen new college graduates for consideration.

Figure 1: Soft skills

Attribute Average rating

Ability to work in a team………………………………….. 4.60
Ability to communicate verbally…………………………….. 4.59
Ability to make decisions and solve problems…………………. 4.49
Ability to obtain and process information……………………. 4.46
Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work……………….. 4.45

Poll is not scientific 5-point scale:

  • 1=Not at all important;
  • 2=Not very important;
  • 3=Somewhat important;
  • 4=Very important; and
  • 5=Extremely important
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