What Skills do Employers Keep an Eye Out For?

Everyone around you talks about the skills employers always look for, but what are these skills and why are they needed?
Gradsingapore Author Team
The gradsingapore Team

Chances are, if you’ve attended a career workshop or asked someone for career advice, you would have heard the terms soft skills, core skills and job skills come up time and again, usually in potentially intimidating phrases like “employers don’t just look at your qualifications; they look at your skill level too.”

But what do these terms mean? How are soft skills evaluated? What do core skills even consist of? Where can you pick up job skills?

We’ll explain as you read on.

Soft skills

Soft skills, employability skills, or interpersonal skills, usually include literacy and numeracy, and while employers generally look for the same basic set of skills like empathy, communication and time management, there are some sectors which emphasise different skills.

For instance, employers in the healthcare industry look for resilience on top of communication skills and empathy – especially when they are looking to place you on the frontline as a nurse or surgeon. Likewise, due to the dynamism of the international stock markets, brokerage firms, fund industry organisations and investment banks seek adaptability among employees. Meanwhile, the consultancy and law sectors prioritise strong interpersonal skills due to the nature of the work involved.

Many employers also look out for team players as most sectors rely heavily on teamwork, such as the hospitality, FMCG and construction industries.

Core skills

Digital skills, commercial awareness and people management are just some things employers hunt for when core skills are mentioned. However, much like with soft skills, different sectors and companies search for different core skills.

For instance, digital skills, especially those concerning Microsoft Office, are highly in demand in some sectors, and savvy recruits are appreciated. On the other hand, due to the character of their sectors, organisations in the FMCG and property industries may prioritise commercial awareness even as the education sector calls for strong leadership skills and the media and advertising industry values creativity. Project management, another core skill, is welcomed in the engineering sector where driving projects is a priority, and an ability to strategise is equally valuable in sales and marketing to push products to consumers.

Other core skills, such as organisational skills, problem solving skills and critical thinking are highly sought after in the healthcare, hospitality and tourism, and media and advertising industries. But on the other hand, the ability to think and work well under pressure is prized in the consultancy, banking and accountancy sectors.

Technical skills

Very much unlike soft skills and core skills, technical skills, also known as hard skills or job skills, is the knowledge and ability needed to carry out certain, specific tasks, much like quantitative research and developing hardware or software. Language ability, as well as networking, are also considered technical skills.

However, as some of these skills usually come around with training and experience, many can only be picked up on the job. For example, the investment management industry welcomes interns and graduates from all disciplines as skills relevant to the industry, such as analytical know-how, can be picked up on the job.

While possessing a variety of these skills would definitely help you, most industries also favour upskilling, so keep a constant eye out for the next skill you want to pick up!