Which graduate skill sets do employers value most?

Skillset and leadership potential are two key things to look at when hiring graduates
Good communications skills and leadership qualities among are two key things employers look for when hiring graduates

Finding suitably qualified and experienced candidates with the necessary competencies is the top priority for graduate employers. This is often because most graduate-level positions require the candidate to have a specific skill and level of knowledge to fit the role.

However, how can you be sure candidates who tick these boxes will also become an integral part of the team and help the business to grow?

The answer lies with the candidate’s soft skills and professional abilities.  It is the candidates who possess these interpersonal skillsets and attributes that are more likely to succeed in the workplace.

Based on a number of surveys, we have devised a list of skillsets most valued by employers.


Excellent Communication

This covers listening, speaking and writing. The candidate should be able to accurately interpret what others are saying, respond accordingly in a clear manner, and organise and express their thoughts concisely.

Analysing/Problem solving

In any industry, candidates should be able to use a degree of creativity and reasoning along with their past experiences to evaluate problems and present reliable solutions.


In most working environments employees will be expected to work with others as well as on their own. Graduate employers should look for someone who can not only speak and contribute confidently within a group, but who also brings out the best in others.


Candidates should act on initiative, put forward ideas and solutions, and show that they can work well under pressure. They should be able to grow and learn from each challenge and adapt to new situations.

Time management & Organisation

A good candidate should know how to manage their time effectively, prioritise certain tasks and be confident working to deadlines.


Even if it’s not required, being able to manage co-workers and delegate tasks is an essential skill to have. Someone who has these leadership qualities can progress through the company.

While it is beneficial to hire recruits based on their skillset, it is not the be-all and end-all. Many graduates offer a range of hard skills that can make up for any shortfall in softskills.

Additionally, according to the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), most employers believe professional skills can be learnt within a year, so it may be worth investing in a graduate development programme, not only to increase the skillset of new hires, but also to attract more recruits to any new positions.