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Skills employers are looking for

Not sure if you've got the skills employers are looking for? You may be surprised. Many of the skills employers look for in a candidate are transferable skills, or skills that can be used in a variety of jobs. Find out what skills are most valued, and what skills would be useful to learn.

The 10 skills most valued by employers

A team of engineers kneeling down to look at the foundations of a building
The ability to work well as part of a team is essential for many jobs

According to Business New Zealand, the top 10 skills employers look for are:

  • communication skills
  • customer service skills – in person, on the phone, and online
  • ability to work well in a team
  • literacy and numeracy skills
  • confidence learning about and using computers and technology
  • planning and organisational skills
  • initiative and a can-do attitude
  • problem-solving skills
  • good work habits and independence
  • health and safety skills.

These skills are all transferable, which means that they are useful in a wide range of jobs and are not specific to just one job or field. So even if you don't have a lot of job-specific skills, you may already have transferable skills that you can use to sell yourself to employers.

What employers look for in a job candidate

Can you do the job?

  • Do you have the necessary abilities, skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications?
  • How soon can you become productive? Are you a fast learner?
  • Are you able to work unsupervised, use your initiative and work confidently under pressure?
  • Will your work be accurate and high-quality?
  • Are you organised and able to achieve goals?

Are you motivated?

  • Are you motivated, and do your goals benefit the company?
  • Will you work for the best interests of the organisation?
  • Are you dependable (ie. reliable and trustworthy)?

Do you fit with the organisation?

  • Do you have a good attitude?
  • Does your presentation and appearance represent the company well?
  • Are you a team player? Do you get on well with others? (The employer wants someone who won't create problems among other workers.)

It is your responsibility to provide employers with the best information to help them make a quality hiring decision. If you consider all the needs listed above, you will increase your chances of getting a job offer.

Basic skills that employers look for in workers

Literacy and numeracy skills

Literacy (being able to read and write) and numeracy (being able to do simple calculations and make sense of numbers) are the two most basic skills that employers look for.

You can get help improving these two skills from organisations such as Literacy Aotearoa.

A driver's licence

Having a driver's licence can give you an edge over candidates who don't have a licence.

Many jobs involve driving – not just professional driving jobs such as bus driver, courier or truck driver. For example, caterers transport food to events, journalists drive to interviews, and sales workers make deliveries.