The job market changes over time to reflect the needs of employers, so it’s worth taking a moment every so often to check out which skills are trending. Recently, a number of organizations conducted surveys to see what employers are looking for in a candidate in 2015. The following skills topped the list:
Verbal communication—The ability to speak well ranked highly among employers interested in college graduates. In fact, roughly a third of information-technology employers said they plan to hire verbally adept candidates to staff technical support and help desk positions during 2015.
Teamwork—Out of the top 10 skills ranked by 260 employers surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), “the ability to work in a team structure” ranked first, well above harder skills like technical knowledge and sales ability. Project management, which involves overseeing enterprise-wide projects and leading teams, ranked highly on another list of important skills.
Planning and organization—Like team skills, planning and organization abilities are necessary in many disciplines. As companies expand, they need to find people to help them handle growth and employ effective management strategies.
Decision making—NACE’s respondents ranked problem solving and decision making as the second most important skills for candidates to display. Obviously, college graduates have used these skills throughout their academic careers, but employers want to hire candidates who can translate these skills to the workforce.
Improving these skills can be difficult. All four are “soft skills” rather than technical ones, and they’re not the kind of skills a traditional education teaches directly. However, there are ways new graduates can improve their soft skills. For example, candidates could read books or complete training programs to buff up any soft skills they have identified as weaknesses.