How to Land Your Dream Job: 7 Soft Skills Employers Want from College Graduates

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You’ve finally graduated college, and now you’re eager to apply your knowledge and skill set to the workforce. With a strong job market — the current unemployment rate is hovering at just 4 percent — there are plenty of positions waiting to be filled by the right candidate.

But before landing your dream job, you must convince potential employers why you’re the right fit for their company. To stand out among the rest of the résumés, you’ll need to emphasize more than just your degree. By demonstrating that you’ve acquired the necessary soft skills necessary for success — the interpersonal skills that can’t be measured — you’ll lock in your place at the top of the list.

Here are the seven soft skills employers look for when they are recruiting new college graduates.

Leadership and Management

When interviewing job candidates, employers primarily look for leadership and management skills, according to a recent study from LinkedIn’s data covering 100 major cities and surveying over 2,000 business leaders. Defined by their confidence, capability, and decision-making capabilities, leaders excel in the workplace. These individuals are invaluable to businesses because they possess the ability to direct others, delegate, and motivate their teams to accomplish incredible things. Good leaders possess clear vision for the future and carry out tasks with integrity, avoiding shortcuts and compromise.

Ultimately, great leaders embody 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

Problem- Solving Ability

Another soft skill employers value is the ability to problem solve. In the workplace, difficult situations may arise, and you’ll be called upon to effectively address them using creativity and critical thinking skills. Being resourceful and possessing the ability to think through issues to form a solution will make you a valuable addition to any team.

On your résumér or in a job interview, identify a time you’ve demonstrated problem-solving skills in the past. Illustrate a situation when you were called upon to employ your critical thinking skills and how doing so resulted in a positive outcome. True problem-solvers bring out the best in their co-workers and teammates, thereby creating a cohesive work environment. The Bible puts it this way: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Flexibility

Because the business world is always changing, flexibility is a soft skill employers value across the board. To remain relevant, businesses must constantly evolve to meet the needs of their customers — and it’s up to employees to ensure this happens. Those who are flexible aren’t afraid of change; they’re able to adapt to shifts in the workplace and meet new challenges without complaint. 

Flexible employees are also innovative; they efficiently respond to setbacks and are able to find alternate solutions when problems arise. They remain positive in the face of change and encourage those around them to do likewise. Adaptability allows you to be flexible and go against the status quo, making you invaluable to employers.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Communication and interpersonal skills are a must, regardless of your profession. In fact, LinkedIn ranks communication the no. 2 most important skill an employer looks for when recruiting new candidates.

The ability to effectively convey your ideas to your coworkers, bosses, and clients is critical to a successful career. Excellent communicators are able to motivate, instruct, and encourage those around them. Because most jobs today require emailing and other forms of online communication, the ability to express yourself in writing is also crucial.

Additionally, those with good interpersonal skills contribute to a positive work environment by establishing strong relationships with clients and co-workers. As Christians, we are called to treat others well, regardless of their position. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Teamwork

Teamwork and collaboration — two more traits LinkedIn identifies as most important to employers — are essential for a healthy work environment. The ability to work confidently within a group, share ideas, and collaborate to find solutions to problems will benefit you in whatever career you choose. Working well with others is fundamental to accomplishing the overall goals of an organization. Are you able to work with a variety of personalities?

The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of teamwork, as God created people to work in unity with one another. Proverbs 27:17 reads, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” and 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

Critical Thinking

Critical thinkers are decisive, insightful, and innovative. They’re able to come up with creative, efficient answers to any problems that may arise in the workplace. They invent new ways to tackle issues and see solutions in areas others might miss. This makes them incredibly valuable employees.

When interviewing potential employees, employers look for critical thinkers because they are able to analytically process setbacks and apply their research and knowledge to resolving problems. They are able to emotionally remove themselves from situations and form optimal, logical solutions.

Time Management

When hiring, companies look for candidates who excel at time management. Employees who exhibit this soft skill are able to prioritize tasks and work efficiently to meet deadlines. Leaders who excel at managing their time don’t procrastinate; rather, they remain organized and move methodically and diligently toward their goals. Because of this, they can are able to maintain a positive performance under pressure.

Employers value this skill because it leads to greater company productivity and, ultimately, saves them money long-term. Before a job interview, draw up with list of your strongest soft skills. Then, be prepared to share examples of how you have utilized these skills in the past. Research shows that 16% of employers believe soft skills are more important than hard skills when screening job candidates. Because of this,  honing your soft skills can help you not only achieve personal success but also begin a meaningful career.