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The Top 5 Skills Employers Seek in New College Graduates

For this year’s batch of college graduates, the employment outlook is not as bright as it could be. According to research by Koru, a job placement program for college students, over half of graduates are either underemployed or unemployed six months after graduating.

It’s no better on the side of hiring managers. No matter which study you look at, employers continuously report that they feel recent grads are under-prepared for the workforce and lacking in real-world skills.

But there’s good news for today’s graduates, too: employers are still hiring them. According to a recent AACU study, employers are planning to hire almost 10% more graduates than they did in 2014.  That’s great news for any young person browsing job listings this summer, and good news for managers seeking fresh new talent.

Below are some of the top skills recent grads can brush up on in order to improve their chances of landing a job. A tip for college graduates reading this? No matter what you studied, you already have many of these skills. The trick is proving it in the interview.

Effective Public Speaking

Many people dread public speaking, but it’s a skill that almost every profession needs. The ability to speak clearly, persuasively, and forcefully in front of an audience is a key component of selling anything—not just physical products, but ideas, ideologies, and worldviews. That’s a crucial skill to have when it’s time to pitch bigger business to clients or share ideas in meetings. A great public speaker will come across as more comfortable, more confident, and more open to new ideas, which is why many employers list this as a key skill for candidates.

Strong Writing Skills

What with all the essays, papers, and short-answer questions college students are required to write, one would think that today’s college graduates are well-prepared for a career that involves a heavy amount of writing. However, many managers report a lack of basic writing skills in new hires. This is unfortunate, because writing is essential for employees who want to communicate their thoughts in a compelling, coherent manner. Great writing skills have become even more important in the digital age, as more and more employees and coworkers are asked to communicate effectively through written channels like email, time-tracking applications, and instant messages.


Self-management is one of the top qualities hiring managers look for when screening potential candidates. Although the ability to take direction is always important, a valuable staffing candidate is one who is able to take the lead, think on his or her feet, and apply strong self-discipline in the workplace.

Critical Thinking Skills

This woefully under-taught skill goes hand-in-hand with self-management. Every industry, from food service to finance, requires employees to sort valuable information from the trivial, analyze its relevance, and relate it to other information. Great critical thinking skills allow employees to make effective decisions and view the bigger picture above the everyday workflow.


Most job postings list “teamwork skills” in their descriptions, but what does that really mean? A great employee will be able to cooperate with others, collaborate with team members to generate new ideas, and adjust his or her actions in coordination with those of everyone else. This crucial skill enables employees to work efficiently and resourcefully with one another.

Browse Jobs for College Graduates with SL Staffing

Whether hiring for hospitality staffing, temp services, or another industry, SL Staffing looks for candidates with the absolute best proficiency in each of these skills. If you would like to hire a college graduate or other type of candidate in North Carolina or Virginia, contact Patriot today to learn how we can help you find the perfect talent.

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