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What are the five skills most sought after by today’s graduate employers?

By UCL Careers, on 5 October 2015

This guest post is from the team at WikiJob, the UK’s largest graduate jobs forum.

As a graduate it is important to know what type of skills potential employers are really looking for, aside from the competencies specific to the position. Put simply: if you understand this, you can prepare a stronger application than other candidates.

Your degree is far from the only factor that will determine how suitable you are for a role. Employers and HR professionals will be looking for a combination of transferable skills and evaluating how you have acquired these during your academic studies and work experience. But what are the most important skills for today’s employers –  and how can you relate them to a specific opportunity?

How to Market yourself Event

These are five skills that are among the most valued in the current graduate workplace:


Written and verbal communication – specifically the ability to convey information clearly and concisely – is fundamental to any job role. In your application, make sure that you provide examples that demonstrate how you have used persuasion and negotiation skills. One of the most effective ways to showcase your talents in written communication is via your cover letter, CV and application documents. Be concise, use a clear structure and focus on results achieved.

Analytical Abilities

Analytical skills are crucial in many different occupations; not just data-based or technical roles. Within the workplace, you’ll need analytical skills to review business processes and identify improvements, or perhaps complete market research to explore avenues for growth. Employers may assess analytical or numerical competency through a psychometric test.

Here are other examples of when analytical skills might be needed at work:

> To review large amounts of quantitative or qualitative data, and produce a report or presentation based on the results;
> To solve a problem, evaluate viable solutions and select the right one for the business;
> To apply critical thinking and analysis to tasks in design, marketing, programming or system management;
> To get the most out of Excel for data analysis.


All employers, regardless of the organisation, will look for graduates who can demonstrate the ability to work cohesively with others, solve problems collectively and work effectively in a team. It may seem simple, but your ability to get along with people is a trait you should make clear in your application and subsequent interview. Demonstrate how you can contribute to a team, provide ideas to improve services, or show how a team you were in improved performance after receiving constructive criticism.

Commercial Awareness

Understanding the world of business and how organisations work together is a vital skill in employment, as commerce is increasingly multinational. Commercial awareness means understanding not only how the business operates but how it can be influenced by competitors and suppliers, and how businesses have to evolve to meet the changing demands of customers.

Time Management

Graduate roles often include many different responsibilities, and employers will look for candidates who can address multiple and often conflicting deadlines which routinely arise in the workplace.

As such, ensure that your application addresses how you manage your time well. This could relate to your studies and perhaps a period of work experience or voluntary work. Show how you prioritised to get the most important things done within your deadline.

Are there other key skills which should have made the list? If so, please let us know by adding a comment below.

– James Rice, Head of Digital Marketing, WikiJob

Find out how Skills4Work at UCL can help you gain these skills employers are looking for: http://skills4work.net/