What employers want – key candidate skills

What do employers want to see in their future team members and how can you demonstrate these abilities?

It’s always helpful to remember that (for the most successful companies!) the recruitment process is about far more than checking experience boxes. Business leaders are also looking for candidates that possess the appropriate skills to enhance their performance and complement the rest of the team.

One study has uncovered six such skills that employers want to see in their recruits:

  1. Adaptability (71.5%)
  2. ‘Resilience’ (57.5%)
  3. Being prepared to ‘upskill’ (39.7%)
  4. Being able to change (31.3%)
  5. Striking a ‘balance between work and personal life’ (29%)
  6. And networking skills (16.4%)

The first four skills all relate to the rapid pace of change now facing employers, as discussed on HR News.

This focus on change also cropped up in our recent post on the most wanted trainee skills – which is also relevant to non-trainees; especially those looking to enter a new sector!

How to demonstrate these skills:

As ever, you don’t want to treat these skills as CV or interview buzzwords so much as useful starting points.

Brainstorm examples that demonstrate how you’ve used these skills and what you’ve achieved as a result. Use these examples in your CV where relevant and practise discussing them in an interview scenario.

‘Relevant’ means you’re also tying your examples back to the skills and attributes required by each individual employer. I.e. you’re carefully reading individual job advertisements and specificiations and then tailoring your approach to match.

An interesting note on skill number three…

You’ll see that being prepared to upskill came in third place and this was discussed further in the HR News piece…

  • It suggests that 89.3% of employers are taking a ‘proactive approach’ to employee skills development for a variety of positive reasons. All sounds fantastic, yet this response is not supported by other research conducted on employees themselves.
  • In reality, only around 46% of professionals believe they are receiving adequate training. Advice for employees in this position can be found here.
  • Business owners may benefit from conducting some internal reviews to ensure that they’re not overestimating their skills development efforts. After all, this has long been a powerful staff retention tool.


Top most wanted trainee skills

Which trainee skills are employers on the lookout for?

Today’s stat source quotes the ACCA, which means the original research was exploring the accounting sector. But don’t disappear just yet! Even if you’re not looking to work in the finance field (which happens to be a prominent local employment sector), you’ll see just how many of these skills apply to other industries. All of them, really!

Even if you’re not a trainee, you should be developing these abilities. Especially if you’re looking to take your experience into a new line of work.

The 10 most wanted trainee skills include:

  1. ‘Strategic decision making’ abilities
  2. ‘Industry-specific knowledge’
  3. Technical confidence
  4. Communication abilities
  5. Demonstrating initiative
  6. Being open to change
  7. Able to meet deadlines
  8. Commitment and loyalty
  9. An eagerness to improve
  10. Excellent customer service

The original feature tells you a little more about how each skill relates to the accounting profession. So, it’s well worth a read if this is your target industry.

How to show employers you have these abilities…

As ever, you need to find ways to convey the link between these job skills and your work experience and achievements. Your CV and/or cover letters are just the place to highlight your core abilities.

It’s not good enough to simply say you can make strategic decisions. Give an example of when you’ve done this and its benefits – even if your example comes from a non-employment role, such as a voluntary position or university project.

As for the industry-specific knowledge, this is where you have to show you’ve done your research. Let interviewers know what you’ve learned about their sector and its challenges and how you can help overcome them. Remember, even trainees play a vital role in helping organisations reach their goals.

Work through the rest of the list and consider which skills you truly possess and how you can prove them. If there are any gaps in your skill-set see what you can do to build them.

Top tip: don’t forget to tailor your CV to any specific vacancies you’re applying for. Watch out for key phrases in job ads and apply the above technique to your application.

Ready to send your CV? Here’s what to include in your cover email to a recruitment agency. You can also register your CV and/or apply for jobs directly via our website.