The Top Job Skills Employers Are Looking For

The Top Job Skills Employers Are Looking For

It’s something almost every job seeker has considered at some point in their search for a new position. Does experience in the field get more attention from employers than a relevant college degree? Can enthusiasm and work ethic get you farther than both? When a job search doesn’t yield a success, it’s often difficult to know exactly what the employer’s reasons were for hiring another candidate. To get a better understanding of what makes a desirable candidate, we analyzed 250,000 job ads across a variety of industries to find the top skills hiring managers seek from new employees.


Despite the common belief that the first necessary step in most fields is an undergraduate degree, only 21% of job ads mentioned the desire for a college degree, with 25% of ads asking for candidates that have complete a high school education. At some experience levels this could be a result of assumption, but across the board the need for a college degree was superseded by experience in the field, and other pertinent skills.



By far the skill most often mentioned in job ads was communication; the word appeared 51% of the time in the ads we analyzed. Whether verbal, written, or both, the ability to communicate successfully appears key to appealing as a candidate.

Time management ranked second as a desired skill, with 21% of ads mentioning it as a trait their ideal candidate would possess.

Being able to work well within a team was mentioned 19% of the time, and independent motivation was noted as a desired quality in 12% of job ads. This data suggests that while an individual candidate’s suitability for a position may be high, their ability to communicate with others and act as a team player is the more important factor in getting hired.

While most qualifications were based on personality traits, 11% of job ads mentioned specific experience in Microsoft Office as a plus in getting hired.

While most company’s job ads focused on their needs in a candidate, a few delved into what the job seeker can expect from the company itself. To help set expectations, 7% said that their position was fast-paced. 6% required a background check from potential employees.



11% of companies included a signing bonus to sweeten the deal, 10% offered training programs for new hires, and 6% specifically mentioned a paid vacation as a benefit employees could take advantage of.

While some requirements and preferences vary, the overall trends apparent from this data are clear:

The most desirable employee is someone that can communicate clearly and work efficiently. Job seekers that are highly motivated will definitely be at the top of a hiring manager’s list, but a candidate that works well within a team is ultimately more likely to get the job. These types of personal traits appeared more often as job qualifications than tangible experience with things like Microsoft Office and higher level schooling, although education level related findings could be affected by the variety of industries analyzed.

We also broke down our findings by job category to find the top 5 skills desired by employers in each industry.

Accounting and Finance

  • Controller experience
  • Experience with the Big Eight public accounting firms
  • Management experience
  • Strategizing skills
  • Bachelor’s Degree

Administrative and Secretarial

  • Customer Service experience
  • Communication skills
  • Data Entry experience
  • Microsoft Word and Excel experience
  • High School Diploma

Computer Software

  • Communication skills
  • Software Development experience
  • A background in computer science
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • SQL Server experience


  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Customer Service experience
  • Communication skills
  • Reliable transportation
  • A clean driving record

Customer Service

  • Customer Service Experience
  • Communication skills
  • Sales and marketing/PR experience
  • Multitasking skills
  • High School Diploma


  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Communication skills
  • Project management experience
  • Problem solving skills
  • Mechanical engineering experience

General Labor & Warehouse

  • High School Diploma
  • Reliable Transportation
  • Communication Skills
  • Hydroblasting experience
  • A positive attitude


  • Certified Nursing Assistant experience
  • Home Health Aide experience
  • High School Diploma or equivalent degree
  • Speech-language Pathologist experience
  • Communication skills

Human Resources

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Communication skills
  • Customer Service experience
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Recruiting experience


  • Computer Science Degree
  • Communication skills
  • Writing Skills
  • Problem Solving skills
  • Software Development experience


  • Insurance License
  • Experience in the field
  • Writing skills
  • Communication skills
  • Time Management skills


  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • A background in Engineering
  • Experience working with natural gas
  • Experience interpreting blueprints and schematics
  • Experience in natural gas production, transmission, and storage


  • Customer Service
  • Communication skills
  • High School Diploma
  • Must be equipped for some amount of physical work (be able to bend, stoop, and stand)
  • Experience executing merchandise resets

Written by

Kylie Anderson is an L.A.-based writer who covered employment trends for the ZipRecruiter blog.

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