Top Skills Employers Look For (And How to Get Them in College/University)

By EasyUni Staff | Last modified 06 Sep 2019
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It’s all over the headlines nowadays: less jobs, more unemployment. Yet why is this happening? Companies everywhere are always seeking out for fresh graduates to contribute to their company, but it seems that not many graduates are able to land the jobs. Even obtaining a high CGPA is not a determinant on getting the job that you are aiming for.

Recently, many articles have published what companies list out as the “top skills” that they look for when hiring fresh graduates. The discussion on how current graduates are applying without the required soft skills is now a hot topic discussed among employers, universities, the press, and many more. Here, we list out some of the most common skills employers are looking for as well as the ways you can develop them while in university.

top skills university undergraduates critical thinking1 – Critical Thinking

Wikipedia defines critical thinking as “reflective reasoning about beliefs and actions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.” Most companies look for students who possess critical thinking skills. This includes the ability to assess valuable information and claims, to always question a statement, to make measured decisions and be mature in handling complex problems. There are actually many ways in which you can develop critical thinking skills.

There are many books on critical thinking, and there are also “brain quiz” books which you can look at before you sleep at night. While in college, keep up to date with the latest news and look at the current issues with a critical eye. Employers will appreciate fresh graduates who are able to think outside the box and form an opinion on current issues in the world.


2 – Communication Skills

problem solving university graduates soft skills

This refers to both verbal and non-verbal communication. Not only do you need to have the confidence in speaking and presenting your know

ledge in front of others, you also need to be able to listen well and be able to communicate simply but effectively.

Reading improves writing. Listening improves speaking. While in college, mingle around with different groups of people (both study groups and social groups) and make sure you read a lot. Brush up on your language, improve your vocabulary, learn business language and the proper ways to communicate to your boss, to your client, to your peers and others around you. Having this asset will make you look very professional once you go out of the university.


3 – Problem Solving

This is related to the first point above. Being able to think critically does not guarantee that you will be able to solve problems effectively. Being able to do both, however, will make you reliable and will definitely increase your employment chances. Managers do not want to micromanage and waste time. They need employees who can assess a problem and are able to come up with solutions without needing them to micromanage through everything.

There are many options that you can take to improve your problem solving skills. You can study the news and solve quizzes of different sorts, but you can also take part in group activities that are centered around building up your skills. Another great way to brush up problem solving is through handling events and taking up positions in your university, like joining the student council or throwing the faculty’s annual dinner. Once you’re in the position of power, many problems will come your way and you’ll learn through life’s best teacher on how to solve problems – experience!


4 – Drive and Passion

This goes beyond saying, but if you apply to a company with zero knowledge on their objectives and mission, it’s likely they will not

 hire you. Companies want employees who share their vision and have the same passion to reach their objectives. They need to know that their employees are motivated and are trying their best to bring the company to a new level.

In college, joining different student clubs will give you a very good idea where your passions lie if you have not yet figured it out by now. Expose yourself to different job positions that are related to your current course so you can have a better idea on where you want to go once you graduate.


5 – Have a Positive Attitude – Be confident!

Nobody wants to work with someone who has a dark cloud over their heads all day long. Have a positive attitude and mindset, and show your potential employers that you’re looking forward to working with them. Be confident, but not cocky! It’s always an added asset if employers know you’re always motivated to learn and contribute to their company.

Again, exposing yourself to the world while in college is a great way to have a positive attitude and increase your confidence. This means shutting off your laptop, getting away from Facebook and Twitter and actually going out where the sun can shine directly on you. Know that you are valuable, and know why. When you apply for work, this will show when you show how much faith you have in yourself.


There are many other soft skills and factors that employers look for when interviewing fresh graduates. Do you have any more you’d like to share? Comment below and let’s discuss!

Posted on 09 Oct 2017
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