5 Top Skills Employers Are Looking For



I’ve noticed the skills that hiring managers want aren’t generally the same skills we learned in school.

The top 5 skills I see employers asking for (and the skills I WISH school had taught me):


It’s bizarre to never need Excel in school and then go into the corporate world and it is simply expected that you know it.

I spoke with a group of companies that were hiring students straight out of Master’s programs and they said the one skill they wish students had when coming into their roles was Excel. The reason why Excel is such an important skill is so many companies are focused on numbers, it's not enough to be driven anymore you’ve got to be data-driven. 

LinkedIn Learning, GoSkills, and even YouTube all have courses on Excel.


If you are in the corporate world, design skills can give you a fantastic edge, because you won’t always have the help of a professional designer, and you want your resume, presentations, deliverables, all to have a level of polish that people associate with your competence. This is because appearances matter even with all the work you create.

Now sometimes you write on your resume that you have design skills, other times you show it. For example, I have a video on how to stand out in an onsite interview by designing a special portfolio I call a BAMF Binder which works for any profession.

My best advice for getting up to speed on design quickly is to start creating elements on Canva.com They have endless templates and is an easy tool for us non-designers.

Language or International Experience

If you know another language or have any experience working abroad or with international teams, flaunt it. 

Work is global now, so many companies work with outsourced teams, and understanding different customs and being able to build great rapport with those in other cultures is valuable. 

If you need to brush up on some of your language skills, I recommend downloading Duolingo - they have really quick digestible lessons that you can do on the go to keep your languages fresh. 

People Management

To get that next-step-up job in your career, you may need to have people management on your resume. Now, Companies only want to put people in people management positions who have done it before, but then how do we get the people management experience in the first place? Many years ago I interviewed at several companies and each one asked me had I managed a team and when I said no, they pretty much ended the interview right there. How do you get around this? 

First, Emphasize any external teams you’ve managed such as contractors and consultants. 

Second, take the initiative to be the trainer for your team when new people join, you learn some great management skills by training others, so when asked have you managed a team, you can say, “I personally trained the 6 new team members we brought on board.” Not the same as managed but still sounds pretty darn good. 

And 3rd, lead the organization of a community event or find a way to be a leader on some sort of nonprofit or local campaign, it’s cool to see what you’re like when you’re coaching others and delegating and it will give you valuable stories to pull from in the interview.

Project Management

A team's effectiveness can live or die at the mercy of great project management - so anyone with exceptional project management skills is an absolute godsend to a team.

The core of project management is ensuring the best possible execution, which means you set the scope of a project and clear goals, you have the ability to manage key stakeholders, you lead effective meetings, and hold retrospectives to be constantly iterating.

It’s also a plus if you know your way around project management software, like Asana, Trello, and Jira. Every company I've worked for has used at least one of these kinds of tools and also expected me to be able to use it. And if you’re in the technology field look into learning about Agile and Scrum, and pop those suckers on the resume. 

Originally published on LinkedIn.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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