Skills Employers Look For (And Tips on How to Showcase Them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 November 2022 | Published 22 November 2021

Updated 17 November 2022

Published 22 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Employers typically look for certain skills from job candidates when making hiring decisions. Regardless of the industry or field, there are some common skills that many employers seek. Learning more about these skills could help you get your preferred job. In this article, we discuss and define five skills that employers look for and give tips on how you can showcase these skills when looking for a job.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume

What are the skills employers look for?

When you're seeking a new career opportunity, you may wonder, 'What are the skills employers look for?' While this can vary depending on the specific company and role, there are some skills which employers frequently seek no matter what the job role is. Job knowledge and work experience are also important, but employers may seek certain skills, and highlighting these skills makes you more attractive to potential employers. It signals to employers that you can carry out your work efficiently and competently. Here are five common skills employers look for in potential candidates:

1. Teamwork skills

Teamwork is essential in almost all work settings. For many organisations, hiring employees who can work as a team is one of the top priorities. Employers look for candidates who can work productively with other people on a day-to-day basis. This applies to both working within your own team and working with other departments. Here are some examples of teamwork skills:

  • Collaboration: Collaboration is being able to work together with others to achieve a common work goal. This involves teamwork where people with different strengths come together to produce desired outcomes.

  • Cooperation: Showing cooperation includes being responsive to requests for assistance from others. It can also mean completing your work on time or helping other people out, with the aim of working towards a common goal.

  • Honesty: Being honest is essential to building trust among team members. For instance, offering honest feedback or reaching out to others to overcome work obstacles can help build a strong team culture.

  • Responsibility: Responsibility means taking charge of your work and being accountable for it. A team with responsible members can focus on the tasks at hand and achieve goals collectively.

Related: 8 Types of Job Skills That Are Important for Career Success

2. Learning skills

Learning skills refer to the ability to acquire new knowledge and understanding while on the job. People with strong learning skills pick up new skills and knowledge so that they become more efficient and effective at their work. Most employers prefer strong learners who are willing to innovate and become better at their jobs.

Some learning skills which increase your employability include:

  • Problem-solving: If you're a good problem-solver, employers are likely to view you favourably. Employers typically look for a candidate who has the skills to recognise problems and resolve them effectively.

  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to analyse issues and make good judgments. Effective decision-making requires critical thinking and the ability to break down complex problems.

  • Adaptability: Adaptability means adjusting yourself to suit organisational changes. Changes are common in many workplaces, thus the ability to adapt to new practices and situations is a highly regarded skill.

  • Creativity: Creativity is the ability to look at issues from a different perspective and come up with innovative solutions to deal with problems. Employers value creative employers who offer new ideas to improve work efficiency.

Related: Soft Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

3. Communication skills

Effective communication is essential to achieving success at work. It's one of the basic skills which is necessary for almost every job. Communication is using verbal and non-verbal tools to make yourself understood. It's also about making sure you understand what others are communicating, whether they are explicit messages or subtle cues.

Here are a few of the key communication skills:

  • Listening: A key part of effective communication requires good listening skills. Listening is not just about hearing what others say but also understanding their intentions.

  • Writing: Writing well means expressing thoughts and ideas effectively through the written word. Good writing skills at work makes communication with others easier and can reduce misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

  • Speaking: Speaking coherently and fluently is another essential part of communication. A good speaker puts across ideas effectively and has the ability to convince or persuade others to action.

  • Negotiation: Negotiation skills are useful in situations where conflict is present. A good negotiator resolves conflicts by getting different parties to agree to a solution.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

4. Organisational skills

Organisation skills are the ability to manage work priorities and use resources productively to achieve work outcomes. Employers value candidates who can multitask and adhere to work deadlines. Those with strong organisational skills use their time effectively and efficiently. They focus on their work tasks and minimise distractions.

These are some organisational skills employers look for:

  • Planning: It's important to have good planning skills to manage your workload and set priorities. The ability to set clear work goals and plan steps to achieve them shows that you have strong organisational skills.

  • Attention to detail: Paying attention to detail is a common job requirement, especially for jobs that need accuracy. If you're detail-oriented, employers know that you're less likely to commit errors.

  • Time management: Time management means the ability to divide your time among different work tasks with varying degrees of urgency and importance. Knowing which tasks to prioritise is an important skill.

  • Self-management: Self-management is managing your own behaviour, thoughts and actions in a way that achieves work efficiency and effectiveness. It means minimising the impact of distractions or setbacks and staying on focus.

Related: What Are Organisational Skills and How Can You Develop Them?

5. Initiative skills

People with initiative skills are proactive at solving work problems and making suggestions to improve work processes. They take action to become better at their work and improve their work environment. They can act effectively on a situation with minimal or no direction from others.

Here are some initiative skills which may make you stand out:

  • Conflict resolution: Taking the initiative to resolve workplace conflicts shows employers that you can add value beyond your job scope. It shows that you can take on challenges to improve your work environment.

  • Decisiveness: Decisiveness is necessary to make decisions quickly and correctly. It requires foresight and initiative to apply good decision-making skills, especially in difficult situations.

  • Confidence: Confidence is about showing your superiors and peers that you stand by your decisions. When you show confidence at work, others are more likely to trust your abilities and follow your lead.

  • Professionalism: When you show initiative at work, some of your peers may feel that you are overly competitive. In such instances, staying professional and tolerating constructive criticism can help to diffuse tense situations.

Related: How to Take Initiative in Your Workplace (With Examples)

How to showcase your skills

Aside from work experience and educational qualifications which are easily verifiable, employers want to know if you have the necessary skills to excel in the job role. Review your previous experience and think about the work settings where you made use of your skills. List down your work achievements and reference them to your skills.

Once you have narrowed down the skills you want to highlight, use the following avenues to showcase them when job hunting. You can give details about your skills in your resume, cover letter and during the job interview. Be as descriptive as possible and support your statements by giving examples and detailing your achievements. These are the ways you can highlight your skills to potential employers:

1. Include your skills in your resume

Make use of your resume to describe your skills thoroughly in the work experience section. When you list your work achievements, be sure to include how you used your skills to meet your targets. It's also useful to include a few bullet points about your most notable skills at the beginning of the resume.

Related: Selecting the Right Resume Skills in 5 Simple Steps

2. Describe your skills in your cover letter

In your cover letter, describe why you're a good fit for the job by referencing back to the job advertisement. Match the skills the employer is looking for to what you have to offer. Keep it concise and include examples of how you applied your skills to your previous work.

3. Showcase your skills during the interview

The job interview is a good opportunity to talk about your skills in detail. Employers may want to hear about how you used your skills to overcome obstacles or handle work challenges. The interview itself is a test of your communication skills. Listen carefully, speak confidently and communicate clearly.

Related: What Are Key Skills? (Definition, Examples and Tips)

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