Top 5 Skills Employers Are Looking For

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So You Think It’s Hard To Find A Good Job?   Put Yourself In The Employers Shoes.

The top employers are working on talent pool strategies to find good people.  If you are one of those ‘good people’ you should have lots of jobs to consider.  The key for you (as a job seeker) becomes understanding what you want in a career and then researching to find the right employer to help you grow that career.  So ask yourself ‘What Am I Good At?”  This list might include the:

  • way you like to work,
  • hours you want to work,
  • way you want to dress,
  • skills you want to continue to develop,
  • type of people you want to be around (this includes clients, colleagues and industry peers)

So, long before you start worrying about the top 5 SKILLS EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR, start doing some soul searching what are you looking for in a career?  Then with your list of career criteria … seek out industries and companies that provide that type of work environment and see more specifically what skills they are looking for.  Different industries do have different skill requirements.

New employee dynamics are forcing employers to think creatively to expand their talent pools. Keeping boomers engaged to take advantage of their vast experience is growing in importance.  Employers are rethinking the requirements to keep boomers working alongside younger generations as skilled managers and mentors.

Top employers are also rethinking the way they write job descriptions and screen candidates.  They are considering carefully whether a college or university degree should be a requirement for the role being filled.   Only something like 33% of the north American talent pool has a university or college degree.   When employers can they may consider extending opportunities to job seekers who might lack a degree but have diverse and valuable experience to offer the organization.

The last crucial ingredient of the changing labor market mix is hiring itself, which is being disrupted by technology and social factors. It’s a candidate’s market, and many industries will continue to see job growth outpace job seeker interest, including hospitality and transportation. (see their full labour market story)

Employers are continually being reminded in order to meet the growing demand for talent, because of the an aging workforce and new global employment opportunities, listening to what job seekers are asking for is extremely important if you want to find the best and the brightest talent.    One increasingly loud demand is for greater flexibility in how, when and where work gets done. According to across a number of different countries, searches related to flexibility are up 42.1% in recent years.

SO, while you are thinking it is difficult to find a good job – be reminded employers are also finding it difficult to find good people.

Put yourself on the offense, consider where the research for the TOP 5 SKILLS EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR, has come from.   It has come through research to understand what skills their top performers have. Every employer knows who their top employees are and every employer wishes there was a way to clone their top performers (I’ve used these words myself, “I wish I could clone employee XX to have 5 employees just like him/her.”)  So, this list of TOP 5 SKILLS EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR (2016) comes from research from employers identifying the skills their top performers have. AND, you can’t just say you have each of these skills, you must be prepared through your resume and interview to demonstrate (through a story or experience) how you excel in each of these skill areas. Also remember different industries may have different lists of their top 5 skills required.


  1. Problem Solving
  2. Drive
  3. Self-Direction
  4. Strategic Thinking
  5. Initiative

Continuing the list 6 – 11 is equally impressive (BONUS)

6. Communication

7. Adaptability

8. Passion

9. Ownership

10. Collaboration

11. Coach-ability

(Source: Employer Survey)


So, your job now in your job search is to first determine which industry and companies provide the work environments you would like to work and grow.  Learn more about the hidden job market and how to tap into it. (Yes, it does exist.) Many great jobs are filled without ever being advertised. Learn how to find those opportunities and use them as your competitive advantage.  Then, go to work researching each of the top 3 companies in that industry and determine what skills their top performers have … and have your resume and interview stories reflect similar skills that you also have.  Be prepared with a story or experience you can share in an interview for each of these top skill requirements to demonstrate who you are, the skills you have and how they reflect your interest to become one of their top performers.

Cheers and continued success in your life and career.

Deborah Clarke,

Deborah Clarke is an industry expert in personal and career development.  She is a regular contributor to Careers Getting Started Blog.  Deborah is author of eBook, Live Your Dream available on sale for only $7 right her on the website.   So, if you want to spend some time soul searching, identifying your top strengths, recognizing the skills you already have you are well advised to start with Live Your Dream to help you.




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