Important Skills Employers
Want in College Graduates

See also: The Skills Gap

You’ve officially graduated from college with a diploma in-hand. And it seems like a million doors have opened to you.

You earned great grades and excelled at your internship. Now, you’re ready to lock down your first real job!

While you might be qualified on paper, there are a few things your future employers will be looking for. After all, nearly every candidate applying for the job is likely to have similar education qualifications.

So, what are employers looking for then?


Let’s go over five of the most important skills to have that’ll set you apart from other job candidates.

Graduates throwing their hats in the air.

1. Drive

Fulfilling the basic duties and responsibilities of a job role is a great start. But your employer wants more.

They want initiative.

That means you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to succeed at your job in every way. Instead of going through the motions of your daily tasks, you need to strive to be better than yesterday.

How Do I Prove Initiative?

You need to go above and beyond what your employer asks of you.

Offer to take on new tasks from your boss when they seem a little overwhelmed. Work with some of your peers to tackle an issue from a different angle. Or, put in some extra time outside of work to build upon your new skills.

Most importantly?

Do things because you want to, not because you have to.

This can help you to show your employer that you’re a motivated and integral piece of your new workplace. Plus, an employer is more likely to be satisfied with the employees who truly value the work they do.

2. Collaboration

You may have succeeded at college through your own hard work and dedication. Likewise, many of the tasks your boss will assign to you can be completed individually.

But most jobs will require you to work hand-in-hand with your colleagues here and there. That means you need to be a good team player as well.

So, what exactly does that mean?

You need to be willing to share your ideas and bring something new to the table.

That might be a solution to a problem, a suggestion for the team, or a new perspective that was never considered.

And, active listening is even more important.

You need to be receptive to new ideas and concepts, even if they don’t line up with what you’ve done in the past. It’s more important to focus on the success of the team rather than your own individual preferences.

Set your ego aside and put the team first.

3. Time Management

There’s nothing an employer values more than efficiency.

An efficient employee can complete their work quickly and without unnecessary errors. There should also be no lingering concerns when it comes to meeting deadlines.

But, sometimes, it’s about multi-tasking.

The dream workday would require you to do one task, finish up, and go home. Yet, you know that’s not likely to happen at all. 

In reality, you’re probably juggling five or more tasks at once.

What If I Struggle with Time Management?

No problem!

There are apps that can help you organize your work calendar and stay on track with deadlines. 

You need to learn how to manage your time and organize your tasks. Prioritize the most important jobs to do first, but also leave time for the minor tasks that follow.

4. Creativity

A lot of people would associate “creativity” with artistic fields.

But creativity has a role in just about every field and industry. Prove to your employer that you can make the workplace more efficient.

That can mean a lot of things.

You can put in the time to find new and creative ways to do things. Look for solutions to the problems that have stumped your colleagues for months. Accept extra tasks when your boss needs a little extra help.

Here’s why.

Every career field and path is changing from year to year. So, what you’re required to do today might not be what you’ll be doing a year from now. Your brand new ideas might just be what advances your company to the next level.

Are There More Benefits to Creativity?

Yes! Creativity shows that you truly understand the skills and qualities of your job.

After all, you need to have some impressive in-depth knowledge of a topic to be able to create something out of it.

So, stop doing things the way they’ve always been done and work on building ways they can be done.

5. Quick Learner

The first day on the job is going to be a little hectic.

After all, you’re in a brand new environment, learning new programs. You’re meeting new colleagues and understanding the ins and outs of the job title.

You’ll spend weeks or months training to be sure that you’re ready to take on the role that you’re assigned. And, employers expect there to be a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to hiring newbies.

How Do I Prove I’m a Quick Learner?

There are ways to prove yourself a quick learner.

Really put in the time and focus on learning the skills and methods that are required in your new position.

Not only does this boost productivity, but it also takes a lot of pressure off your boss.

Instead of focusing on training you for an extra few weeks, they can go back to doing their own job and being productive.

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Develop the skills you need to get that job.

This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.


Securing your first big job is a major step in advancing your career. Having a college diploma and a little internship experience won’t guarantee you a job offer.

You need to look a little deeper than the knowledge.

Work to perfect your communication skills and begin developing personalized time management methods. Be willing to learn new things and let your personality show with a little extra creativity.

But, most importantly?

Show them that you are motivated!