Hot off the press!  What do employers look for when recruiting students and graduates?  What level of competency do employers expect students and graduates to have on day one of the job?

346 employers who have recruited students and graduates over the past two years responded to our employability skills survey.  44% of respondents came from national organisations, 42% from international organisations and 14% from local and regional organisations.  61% came from the private sector, 28% from the public sector and 11% from the not-for-profit sector.

Can you guess what came out as the No.1 most sought after attribute?  Work ethic came out as the most important attribute when hiring university students or graduates. Employers want graduates who they can rely on, are ready to take on responsibility and can produce quality work.

Employers also commented on the importance of graduates demonstrating a genuine interest in the work of the organisation and good understanding of the industry sector. Another aspect considered important were extracurricular activities and life experiences such as living independently or overseas travel. Employers seek evidence of interests that go beyond the degree course, especially those that involve hands-on experience in a work environment. These comments highlight the value that employers place on students and graduates being well-rounded individuals who can demonstrate at least some strengths in all of the skill areas within the top ten list. The results illustrate that the key to employability is the combination of the skills, and the best approach to the top ten skills and attributes is to view them collectively rather than individually.

Here is the list of the top ten skills and attributes identified by employers who responded to our survey:

  1. Work ethic
  2. Verbal communication skills
  3. Energy & enthusiasm
  4. Analytical & critical thinking
  5. Problem solving
  6. Team work
  7. Interpersonal skills
  8. Written communication skills
  9. Self-management
  10. Initiative & enterprise

As far as levels of competency for each of the above skills and attributes are concerned, the highest expectations were for competencies related to work ethic (such as being reliable, being responsible, and committed to high quality of work). Communicating in a clear and sensitive manner to different audiences both in writing and speaking were also areas where respondents expected students and graduates to demonstrate very high levels of competency.

You can find more details about the survey here.

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