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A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) indicates that verbal communication skills are among the most highly sought soft skills in recent college graduates. Next in order were a strong work ethic, teamwork, analytical skills and initiative—all considered to be key assets in today’s workforce. Academic excellence, internship experience or other relevant work experience were also noted as highly desirable.

While a strong work ethic or outstanding communication skills are unlikely to overcome a pitiful GPA or lack of experience, these skills can differentiate entry-level candidates from the competition. The applicant with superb soft skills often has a competitive edge in a tight job market.

Top 5 Candidate Skills/Qualities in New Graduates: 

  1. Verbal Communication Skills
  2. Strong Work Ethic
  3. Teamwork Skills
  4. Analytical Skills
  5. Initiative

If your oral and written communication skills aren’t up to snuff, you may want to develop strategies for overcoming these deficits as you begin your job search. Reading is an excellent way to increase both vocabulary and comprehension. Writing can be improved with concerted practice. Use a journal to record your job search experience, write a blog on a topic you are passionate about, or find a pen pal to correspond with. Note that text messaging and emailing can be detrimental to spelling and grammar and halt a promising career.

Of course your resume and cover letter are prime examples of your communication and presentation skills. If you’re not getting an employers’ attention with the documents you are submitting to employers, you would be wise to seek a professional opinion of their organization, clarity and impact.

Ellie Vargo, MRW, CCMC