Skills employers are looking for

Find out the top seven skills that will make employers want to hire you.

Hero image of a female Maori personal trainer smiling at the camera as a young male client works out on an exercise bike. They are in a gym and graffiti is in the background.

Employers want you to have a positive attitude and resilience

Employability skills are the skills, qualities and attitudes that employers say are essential for their workplace. 

1. Positive attitude

Having a positive attitude is like showing up to your team’s game ready to give it your best, excited and ready to go even if the chances of winning are low and it’s going to be hard work.

2. Communication

You have good communication skills if you can listen well, you don’t swear at work or have a bad attitude, you can ask for what you want clearly and you’re not afraid to ask if you don’t understand something.

3. Teamwork

Teamwork is just like when you’re playing netball or performing in your band. You help each other to get what you want, you make sure you do your part, you get on with everyone and you respect your coach or manager.

4. Self-management

When you manage yourself you are in control of what you do and say in a way that doesn’t harm yourself or others. You turn up to school or work on time, in the right clothes and ready to start, and people can rely on you.

5. Willingness to learn

Willingness to learn is showing that you’re happy to learn new things and what you need to know to do your job. It also means that when, for example, your coach says that you need to work on your passes, or your kapa haka teacher says you need to improve your poi actions, you don’t get too upset, but take it calmly and try hard to do better.

6. Thinking skills (problem solving and decision making)

Using thinking skills means that if you see a problem, you don’t wait for someone else, you find a way to fix it. When you make a decision, such as what to do when you leave school, you think carefully about all your choices and ask for advice.

7. Resilience

Maybe you’ve worked really hard on that NCEA project and got a Not Achieved and feel like giving up? Or your family moves to a new town, away from your friends? Resilience is accepting that life does get hard at times and does change. It’s about being able to change, ask for help and keep going. 

Check your employability skills

How do I get these skills?

You will have many of these skills already. The good news is that these skills can be learned in daily life.

You can develop employability skills by:

  • doing work experience or volunteer work
  • playing sport or doing music and performing arts
  • helping your family
  • taking part in a hobby or interest
  • taking part in school activities such as debating, or the Young Enterprise Scheme
  • taking part in community activities such as environmental causes or fundraising
  • working steadily at school.

Employability skills posters, templates and activity sheets

Employability skills posters and templates

These posters show how you can gain employability skills through the activities you’re involved in. Three stories have been developed and there are poster templates for you to make your own.

Employability skills activity sheets

There are four activity sheets to use alongside the posters. Write or draw your own story to help you discover your employability skills.

Basic skills employers look for

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 to improve these two skills from organisations such as Literacy Aotearoa.

Computing skills

Most jobs need you to be able to use a computer. For example, plumbers write up invoices on tablets, retail assistants use computers to make sales, and street cleaners use email to send reports on floods.

You can do free basic computing courses in your town. You can find these courses online or advertised at your local library or community centre.

Driver's licence

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

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.

Updated 23 Jan 2019