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Let's talk a bit more about what employers are looking for in an employee. They want people who will do a great job and be effective contributors to the team. 

Smart employers take their time to get to know you as a person. It's not just about what you know and can do. It's also about who you are as a person. How you work with the team, how you get along with others, and how you perform over time are just as (and usually more) important than the technical knowledge you bring.


Just because you do a good job is not enough. You need to be able to do a good job WITH other people. Remember - it's NOT just about you. It's about you working with others to achieve common goals as an organization. 

Employers want to hire an employee who will come to work on time, add value, do a great job, perform well, contribute to the team, and stick around. In return, most employers are happy to recognize and reward those employees when they deliver. But you need to do your part first. The reward comes after you do your part. 

So - what does it take to get that job you've always wanted? 

Let's identify those personal skills that can help you to be effective, stand out from others, and deliver the quality and quantity that your employer wants and needs. 

The following are some of the top skills as provided from recent employer surveys. 


These are a few of the top "soft skills" that are most sought after by employers based on recent employer surveys. They apply to ALL employee types - all positions, all industries - regardless of employment type. 

Communication Skills

Employees must know how to communicate with others both verbally and in writing. Interpersonal communication is critical for co-workers to speak respectfully, clearly, and professionally. All employees must be able to communicate and understand instructions, ask questions, clarify meaning, avoid assumptions, and resolve misunderstandings and conflicts. Employees must be able to read and write clearly, avoiding misspellings and poor grammar, especially in business writing such as e-mails. 

Taking classes on effective communication is worth the time and money. Students should pay attention to English classes. If this is not a strength, consider tutoring to get the basics down. This skill ALONE will cost you jobs, promotions, and more. 

Time Management

Show up to work on time. Period. Stay until the end of your shift. Period. Get your assignments done on time. Period. You need to know how to organize your schedule on a daily, weekly, and longer basis. If you do not know how to keep and maintain your schedule, get help right away. There are many free classes available online (e.g., YouTube) to give you ideas. Pick your system and stick with it!

Remember - Early is on time. On-time is late. And late is NEVER acceptable. 

Emotional Intelligence

This may be one (if not the) most important skill of them all. This is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your emotions and those of others. You must be able to be empathetic to those around you. In other words, you must remember that it's not just about you. You need to consider others when you make decisions. What you do and say has an impact on others in the organization. What you do and say matters - and there are ALWAYS consequences. You may think that you don't care, but the only time you shouldn't care is if you don't want to be promoted or if you don't want to have a job any longer. Those with high emotional intelligence - who care about others, are empathetic, and take everyone into consideration - tend to be respected more, promoted more, make more money, and do much better in their careers. You can demonstrate your emotional intelligence as soon as your initial job interview by actively listening, showing genuine emotions (e.g., genuine - not fake - passion for the job), talking about your growth, and asking sincere questions about the company. 


Though it may be natural to want to work alone, your organization will most likely value your ability to collaborate - to work with others, share ideas, and support a team. They know that the answer and solution always lie in the team. Sure, you do well as an individual. But better solutions come when you work with others. They want to know that you can engage, communicate, collaborate, and work well with others professionally. If this is not natural, find opportunities to begin now to engage with others on projects. 


Let's be honest - almost no one likes change. And when they do, it's only when they create, control, and initiate the change. Adaptability, resilience, and flexibility are all critical to successful outcomes for employees. Change is the only constant in business. Employees who cannot adapt to change are those who have the most difficult time. If you want to be on the boss' list of favorites, figure out how to roll with the changes. 

Active Listening

Most people listen as they wait their turn to talk. Active listening is listening for meaning - they pay attention to what is being said, listen for content and context, and identify ways they can dig deeper. People want to be listened to. Listening intently is not enough...engaging with eye contact, full body language, and withholding judgment are key. Avoiding any interruption, asking follow-up questions for understanding, and rephrasing their statements can help you to better understand what they are saying. Remember - active listening is about THEM. 

Problem Solving

The ability to identify, break down, evaluate, and solve problems on your own is essential. However, it is becoming a lost art it seems. If you can be an independent problem solver, you will be a truly valuable asset to your boss. If you are not highly skilled at independent problem solving, start now to learn how. It is a skill that can be learned. 

Conflict Resolution

It is not enough to avoid conflict. People do that all the time.  However, conflict is a natural part of being human. The real skill is to effectively resolve conflict. This comes from understanding it, engaging others professionally and appropriately, and using interpersonal communication and interrelations skills to discuss and resolve it. These are critical skills needed to be effective at maintaining productivity and effectiveness in the workplace. 

Positive Work Ethic

Bringing a positive work ethic to your job is critical. Being excited and positive are important to stand out and show your employer that you want to be there, you are committed to your work, and that you want to make a difference. Individuals who demonstrate positiveness in the workplace tend to get promoted faster, make more, and suffer from less stress and fewer health-related problems over time. In addition - you'll have a much better time at work when you make it a positive experience for you and your co-workers. 


We often talk about professionalism as though we all know what it means. But you may not. We are talking about practicing integrity, level-headedness, patience, and overall appropriateness in all aspects of your job. It can be a stepping stone to career advancement. As you treat others professionally, act appropriately in situations, demonstrate tact and diplomacy, and use business etiquette, you will show others that you know how to behave and act in a business setting. It goes a long way to show that you belong in a higher position. 

Respect for Diversity

Let's get one thing straight. There is NO PLACE for discrimination, harassment, or bullying in the workplace. That is the "don't" list. However, employers are also looking for people who bring the proactive skill of promoting inclusiveness and promoting a culture that understands the value of diversity. Recognizing that people are different and the strength that comes from different perspectives can help you to provide input, creativity, and leadership. You can also deliver conflict resolution as needed when differences arise to help improve collaboration within the workplace. 

Keep Learning

You will NEVER know enough. As soon as you think you know enough, there will always be more to know. Things change too fast. The world is always changing and you must always stay on top of it. Always be reading, taking a course, or finding ways to improve your understanding and expertise. It will help you to stay on top of your career and industry. 

Other Skills

Other points that employers listed included skills such as...

  • Ability to take feedback and make changes (act on the feedback without resistance)

  • Ability to ask for feedback (don't just wait for it)

  • Be friendly and polite

  • Respecting coworkers and supervisors

  • Respond appropriately to customers and their requests

  • Customer service skills

  • Reading and understanding written materials and instructions

  • Listening, understanding, and asking questions

  • Following directions to exact specifications

  • Expressing ideas clearly and succinctly

  • Learning technology quickly and accurately

  • Admitting when you need help and asking for it

  • Willing to start, stop, and switch duties when needed

  • Work calmly in business environments

  • Ability to multi-task

  • Complete all tasks - even if it is uncomfortable or you do not like it

  • Understand and abide by proper dress codes or professional standards

  • Exert high levels of effort and perseverance


  • Be dependable and reliable

  • Be comfortable working with people of diverse backgrounds

  • Actively contribute to team goals - even if it means not receiving individual recognition

Ethics and Personal Responsibility

  • Take responsibility for personal decisions and actions

  • Be honest and trustworthy

  • Understand and follow company rules

  • Act professionally and maturely

Professional Skills

  • Learn new skills and take on new projects

  • Take initiative and work with little supervision

  • Understand your industry and common business practices

  • Align your work with that of your company


  • Coach and mentor others

  • Take appropriate risks - try things out

  • Simplify processes, find opportunities to improve 

  • Save time and money for the organization 

  • Build partnerships and teams with coworkers

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