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What skills do employers look for in an employee?

By Fi Darby

When you’re looking for a new job, don’t get too hung up on your previous work experience. Recruiters are just as keen to find out about your personal skills as your previous employers and job roles. In this article, we explain the skills employers look for in an employee.

What are the most important workplace skills for employers?

Some skill sets for jobs are relevant to particular industries; for example, administering medication if you work in community care. You may have heard these skills termed as “hard” or “technical” skills. Whilst it will help your job application to have some previous professional experience, these hard skills can also be gained through training on-the-job and work experience in your new role.

The good news is that industry-specific skills aren’t the only skills employers look for. They’re also interested in finding people who fit in with their workplace culture, rise to challenges and demonstrate resilience when the going gets tough. In order to meet these expectations, you’re going to need another set of important career skills.

These are often known as transferable skills because once you’ve developed them, they’ll be attractive to employers in a whole range of industries and job roles.
You need to think about the qualities employers are looking for right through your job search and application process. A job description and person specification will list the essential and desirable key skills for each job you apply for. It’s important to make sure you demonstrate your ability to meet these criteria, as well as any other relevant skills, through your cover letter, application, resume and interview.

To help you prepare, we’ve listed four of the most important job skills categories below.

What are the most important job skill categories?

  1. Interpersonal skills
  2. Problem solving skills
  3. Positivity
  4. Technical skills

Interpersonal skills

Your interpersonal or people skills allow you to work well with other people and become a helpful team member. It’s easy to see why employers value employees who can engage and encourage others. It’s not always so easy to demonstrate your ability to do this in a job application.
To make sure you’re prepared for questions, think about examples of when your communication, collaboration or even leadership skills have brought a team together or achieved a great result. Making a good impression in your interview is also a great way to demonstrate your interpersonal skills.

Problem solving skills

No job ever runs completely smoothly. That’s why employers value good problem solvers so highly. They’re looking for people who can work out what is causing an issue, suggest a plan to sort the situation out, then see that plan through to fruition.
Make sure you include your problem solving experience, with examples, on your application form then be prepared to suggest answers to hypothetical situation questions at your interview.


A positive attitude can lift team spirits, come up with creative solutions and ultimately make sure the job gets done. Small wonder then that employers value this career skill so much. Employees with a positive attitude tend to take a flexible approach to problem solving and are often more likely to work hard to see a situation to fruition.
Positivity is a vital part of resilience and a key skill for any job so make sure you demonstrate your ‘yes-I-can' attitude at all stages of your application.

Technical skills

Some of the technical skills you require for your job application will depend on the industry you want to work in but others will be relevant across a wide range of jobs and useful to a variety of employers. The list of these includes social media, content management, remote communication, video conferencing, web development, digital media and graphic design but there are plenty of options out there.
Whether you're looking at industry-specific applications or a general flair for technology, improving your technical skills before you make an application can make all the difference. Think of these as your additional extras. Something you can offer a prospective employer that another applicant might not be able to.

How do you assess your workplace skills?

Some employers use bespoke workplace skills assessment tasks but it’s important to understand your own career skills before you start your application process. There are a few ways you can approach this.
  1. Keep a portfolio of your skills and experience as you progress through your career. Record times when you learned something new, or were praised for demonstrating your knowledge or sharing your ideas.
  2. Look at the job description and person specification for your current role then work out how your own skillset matches up.
  3. Talk to supportive colleagues or ask for a progression meeting with your manager. Look back at notes from previous meetings.

How do you develop your workplace skills?

Once you understand your existing skills for careers, you’ll be in a good place to start making improvements. There are lots of ways you can do this. Asking for additional responsibility at work can really help, as can getting involved with volunteering organisations or trying a new hobby or activity.
Another great way to develop both your industry-specific hard skills and your transferable soft skills is to enroll on an online course. Online learning is great when you’re job seeking because it is highly flexible. If you’re worried about fitting training in alongside your existing job and family commitments, it’s definitely worth considering studying online.

The options for online study are available across a wide range of industries, but usually include opportunities to develop both your hard and soft job skills. An example of this under Upskilled would be our:

Certificate IV in Business Administration

Our BSB40120 - Certificate IV in Business Administration will focus on a range of specialist business skills including maintaining business relationships and implementing WHS policies but it also includes units on personal development and work priorities that will support you as you develop your soft skills.

Upskilled offer a wide range of nationally accredited courses in an impressive number of key industries. To find out more about how online learning can help you develop the important job skills employers are looking for get in touch with our team today.
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Start your next course with Upskilled. Enter your details in the form below.

*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.