The top 5 employability skills valued by employers

When seeking potential candidates for a job, what skills do employers look for when skimming through job applications? Yes, they are looking for applicants with the right qualifications and experience, but when employers are faced with several similar looking candidates – what is the secret to making a job application stand out?

The simple answer is: employability skills. In today’s competitive job market, employers are looking for skills that go beyond knowledge and technical ability. Job seekers need to demonstrate the qualities and attitudes that will make them successful members of an organisation; skills like the ability to build and develop relationships, solve problems, take the initiative and hit targets.

Take a look at our top 5 list and find out if you have the employability skills employers want.


One of the chief skills employers are looking for is the ability to confidently communicate both verbally and in writing, to different kinds of people. Take a look at our good communication skills checklist and see how you measure up:

  • Ability to express ideas clearly and confidently both written and verbally
  • Ability to listen effectively
  • Ability to act upon information and instruction
  • Ability to give and receive constructive feedback
  • Ability to recognise and relate to different perspectives

Want to improve your communication skills? Watch this great TED Talk by Business Sound Expert Julian Treasure, about how to speak so people want to listen:

Problem solving

If you want to make yourself more attractive to employers, one of the best things you can do is hone your critical thinking skills. Do you have the ability and experiences to enable you to…

  • Identify and think through a problem
  • Find an effective solution
  • Make informed decisions
  • Have the confidence to execute your chosen course of action
  • Review the outcome

Want to improve your problem solving skills? Watch this TED Talk by author and public speaker Tom Wujec, about how to understand and solve complex problems:

Planning & Organising

Good organisational skills = productivity. If your organisational talents are lacking, you are in danger of missing opportunities and deadlines while also opening yourself up to stress. Here’s what good organisational skills look like:

  • Ability to plan activities
  • Ability to adapt to changing situations
  • Ability to manage time effectively
  • Ability to prioritise and delegate tasks
  • Ability to work to deadlines
  • Ability to stay calm under pressure

Are you affected by stress in the workplace? Watch this inspiring TED Talk by psychologist Kelly McGonigal:

If you have trouble with time management, writer Tim Urban’s TED Talk is a wake up call for procrastinators:


Learning to empathise and discovering ways to cut through problems with tact and diplomacy leads to better working relationships and a happier workplace. How would you perform if your negotiating skills were put under the microscope?

  • Awareness and understanding of competing goals and opinions
  • Ability to listen, discuss and reach agreements
  • Ability to influence and convince others
  • Ability to compromise

Want to improve your negotiating skills? Watch this excellent talk by author William Ury on simple ways to create agreement:

Positive Mental Attitude

It may have become an overused and cliche but having a positive outlook and ‘can do’ approach to work, can and will make you more successful. How do you fare when it comes to thinking and acting positively in the workplace? Do you…

  • Give everything a go
  • Have the determination to make things happen
  • Look for better ways of doing things
  • Find solutions to challenges
  • The ability to motivate others

Not convinced? Watch this TED Talk by psychologist Shawn Achor, about how happiness and positivity can make us more successful:

Need help to make your job applications stand out from the crowd? Make an appointment with one of our advisers who can help you identify and develop your employability skills and advise you on how to write a successful CV or covering letter. Call us on 0345 658 8647 or call into your local Inspira Centre.