Skills that employers look for
Stand out from the crowd!
Employers not only use technical qualifications and experience when assessing applications. They also look at key sets of 'soft' skills to help them find future employees who can blend in with their existing team, deal with customers and other clients, resolve problems, improve how things are done, work under pressure and progress through their training programmes.
With so much competition for jobs as more and more people complete university degrees and other levels of training, employers have a large pool of talent to recruit from and will place equal importance to these skills as to qualifications to find the right people.
What are these skills?
These skills and abilities refer to 'transferable' skills which can apply to all kinds of jobs. While a Doctor, Aeronautical Engineer, Astronaut and Flight Operations Manager need to have very different specific knowledge to carry out their duties, the skills they need to use this knowledge effectively will be the same. For example, the ability to communicate or work as a team.
These skills are also sometimes called ’generic’, as they relate to all disciplines/jobs and ‘employability skills’ because having them makes you more employable in the eyes of the recruiter!
Key soft skills:
- Communication – written and oral
- Problem Solving/Analytical Skills
- Innovation and Creativity
- Organisational and Planning
- Time Management
- Attention to detail
- Ability to motivate others
- Willingness to learn
- Cultural awareness
- Manual dexterity (or hand skills; particularly for hands-on engineering roles such as aircraft maintenance)
Note that it is difficult to be 'taught' these skills, you are more likely to develop them over time in different situations, without a formal qualification to show what you have learnt.
- IT skills
- Relevant technical knowledge
- Commercial Awareness
- Language Skills
- Project Management
The above skills can be taught and 'certified' e.g. via a course.
Showing your skills
You will need to include some of these skills on your CV which are most relevant to the role you are applying for and best reflect your profile. You may also have to answer detailed questions on an application form or at interview.
Until you are very experienced, simply ‘listing’ the skills will not be enough to convince the employer. You need to provide evidence of your skill with a short, precise but concise example which is unique and makes you stand out of the crowd! The examples should be as recent as possible, e.g. last 2-3 years.
In most cases, unless stated otherwise, recruiters will be interested in examples from all aspects of your life:
- Work experience (part-time jobs, industrial placements)
- Voluntary/community work
- Hobbies and interests (including sports, Air Cadets etc.)
- Extra-curricular activities (including university societies)
For example, your team sports will be of particular interest, as well as clubs and societies you are an active member of at university or college, and events you have helped organise in the community. Sometimes your experiences will develop more than one skill e.g. getting involved in a voluntary event could develop your organisational and teamworking skills, and demonstrate your commitment. Part-time work is also fine - all jobs help you develop skills and also shows you are willing to take financial responsibility for yourself.
You can start by looking at our simple SKILLS EXERCISE, to help you think through your experiences and what skills you have developed through them.