13 December 2022

11 Unique Skills Employers Look For (That Will Make You Stand Out!)

You’re ready to take on the working world, but you’re looking to understand what skills employers look for as you apply for the graduate role of dreams.

You’ve got your degree and you’ve gathered a wealth of knowledge for the career you want to venture into. But how do you make sure you stand out from the crowd? How do you make sure that your CV is the one that gets read?

If you’re a recent graduate, chances are that your work experience is limited. That’s why it’s important that you highlight the skills you have and how you would apply them to the role.

As a leading recruitment agency that specialises in nurturing and recruiting recent graduates, we know what employers are looking for. Now it’s time to share our knowledge and experience with you.

So, keep reading to find out how you can best promote yourself and your skill set to future employers.

Your guide to the 11 top transferable skills employers look for

The graduate job search can be a stressful time for anyone. You want to secure the job you’ve been studying for, but you also want to ensure that you don’t sell yourself short.

So, it’s time to demonstrate exactly what you’ve got with a good ol’ CV packed full of skills and expertise!

When you’re applying for jobs, it’s important to highlight the skills you have that are relevant to the position. It’s easy to get caught up in listing your skills and forget about how they might look in a job description.

Top tip: It’s a good idea to read job listings carefully and ensure your CV or application meets all of their requirements. You’ll be more likely to impress them if they don’t have to weed through a bunch of applications that aren’t relevant at all!

When writing your cover letter or resume, try to avoid vague language like ‘I’m good at problem-solving’ or ‘I have strong organisational skills.’ Truth is, anyone could make those claims.

Instead, think about specific examples of when you’ve applied those key skills in the past and include them in your application.

Here are 15 transferable skills that employers are looking for:

1. Resilience

Resilience is an essential quality to possess in any industry or field, but it’s particularly crucial in those where a person must take responsibility for their own actions and mistakes. If you’re applying for jobs in fields like sales or management, having resilience will help you stand out from other applicants who may have more experience but less adaptability.

Resilient employers have the skills necessary to:

  • Overcome obstacles and challenges.
  • Take a hit and move forward
  • Maintain a positive attitude and learn from their mistakes.
  • Are able to evolve with changes

2. Leadership skills and team management

Leadership skills are a must in any job – especially when you’re managing a team in a leadership role. It’s important to be able to work with other people and earn their respect, whilst giving respect back.

As a graduate, you may be able to demonstrate this quality in the educational project you may have led.

Employers with leadership skills are able to:

  • Motivate a team
  • Deal with challenging situations professionally
  • Delegate tasks and manage the workflow between the team members.
  • Build successful relationships both internally and externally

3. Communication skills

Communication skills are relevant for any job in the modern workplace, and employers look for them in every candidate. And yes, that means going beyond chatting with your co-workers!

To communicate effectively, you must be able to listen to what others have to say and respond appropriately. In addition to these basic communication skills, employers may also look for a particular level of proficiency in a specific area of communication – for example, reading comprehension or writing technical reports for scientific publications.

An employer with great communication skills will:

  • Write clearly and concisely, using appropriate grammar and spelling.
  • Have both written and verbal communication skills.
  • Possess customer service skills.
  • Be transparent, clear and understanding.

4. Interpersonal skills

Employers value interpersonal skills because they show that you can deal with different personalities and situations at work without losing your cool or getting frustrated easily. It shows that you’re able to collaborate well with others, which is crucial for many jobs today.

Employers that possess interpersonal skills can:

  • Build rapport with clients and co-workers.
  • Understand how to communicate with different audiences.
  • Ask for help when needed, and accept criticism constructively.
  • Handle conflict calmly and effectively.

5. Critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is a relevant skill that employers often look for in candidates. Essentially, it’s the ability to look at a problem or situation and break it down into its components to find the best solution.

The best way to demonstrate this skill is by providing examples of personal situations or work you’ve done in the past. Be sure to include both good and bad examples because employers are interested in seeing how you handle both cases. You can also show this skill by completing an assessment that measures your critical thinking abilities.

Critical thinkers can:

  • Apply analytical skills to tough and challenging scenarios
  • Think clearly and rationally when approaching a problem.
  • Identify solutions that may not have been thought of before.

6. Adaptability

Adaptability allows you to be flexible, adaptable and resilient in your approach to work. You can learn new skills or methods quickly and easily. Prospective employers want to be able to trust their employees will be able to adapt to changes in the workplace, so finding someone with a history of flexibility can be an asset.

If you have adaptable skills, you’ll be able to:

  • Change direction if necessary and deal with unexpected situations calmly and efficiently.
  • Tackle unfamiliar problems without panicking or losing confidence.

7. Data analysis and management

If you’re looking for a career in the SaaS industry, this is a particularly special skill to have.

Regardless of their role, SaaS professionals need to be aware of security measures. Using virtual services comes with its own set of compliance risks, so oversights can lead to huge losses for companies.

As more and more companies transition to cloud-based solutions, they need their employees to be able to make sense of their data – and this means analysing it, managing it, and presenting it in a way that makes sense for the business.

An individual who is good with data will:

  • Know how to navigate various data platforms.
  • Understand the importance of security and data protection,
  • Have numeracy skills.

8. Time management skills

Time management skills are a key ingredient for success in the workplace. Potential employers are looking for graduates who have proven that they can manage their time effectively, and this is something that you can evidence with the deadlines you met during your time at University.

Employees with time management skills can:

  • Manage their own workload and organise their time.
  • Stick to deadlines.
  • Set realistic goals and be able to hit them.

9. Self-motivation

You’ll want to be able to show why you’re the best person for the job, and that means being able to convince your interviewer that you’ll be motivated enough to do whatever it takes to succeed.

It’s important to demonstrate that you have self-motivation by showing them how you’ve acted on your own initiative in the past, whether it was completing an assignment early or taking charge of a project when it needed attention.

Self-motivated employees are able to: 

  • Complete tasks without falling behind.
  • Show commitment to reaching milestones and achieving goals.
  • Have self-awareness of what works and what might not work so well.

10. Project management

Project management is one of the most sought-after skills in the business world. Employers want to see that you’re able to take a big idea, break it down into smaller chunks, and then put together a step-by-step plan for how you’ll get those chunks done. Your project management skills will help you keep your team focused on the goals at hand and work towards them effectively.

Those with project management skills are able to:

  • Take projects both big and small from start to finish efficiently.
  • Plan and organise tasks far in advance.
  • Communicate effectively with a team.

11. Teamwork

This one goes without saying. Everyone looking for a job must demonstrate that they make a good team player. However, it’s important to give a unique example to really stand out.

Team players in the workplace will:

  • Offer advice and a helping hand to those that are struggling.
  • Keep a team of people updated with any jobs and projects that are underway.
  • Celebrate other people’s successes and build team morale.


How can I ensure my CV stands out to employers despite limited work experience?

Emphasise transferable skills relevant to the position you’re applying for. Highlight instances where you’ve demonstrated resilience, leadership, communication, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, adaptability, time management, self-motivation, project management, and teamwork, even if gained outside traditional work settings, such as through educational projects or extracurricular activities.

Why is it important to provide specific examples of skills in job applications?

Specific examples provide tangible evidence of your capabilities and differentiate you from other candidates who may make generic claims. Instead of stating you possess certain skills, illustrate how you’ve applied them in past situations, showcasing your ability to problem-solve, lead, communicate effectively, and collaborate with others.


How can I prepare for graduate job interviews beyond just listing skills on my CV?

Beyond listing skills on your CV, prepare for interviews by practising behavioural questions related to the skills employers seek. Be ready to discuss real-life situations where you’ve demonstrated resilience, leadership, communication, critical thinking, and other sought-after skills. Additionally, research the company to tailor your responses and ask insightful questions about its culture and expectations.

Speak to our super-friendly and knowledgeable graduate recruiters for more advice!

If you’re looking for advice on how to ace your grad job interview, we’ve got you covered.

Our approachable, expert graduate recruiters are here to help you out. We want the best for you and we know you do too, so we’re here to ensure that you’re the golden egg of candidates!

If you want advice on how to write your CV and cover letter, or just want to talk about your experience with someone who’s been there before, our team at Timberseed is here to chat.