Skills employers look for

Employers want to know about your skills

Whatever job you are applying for there are some skills, abilities and attitudes that most employers want. These are often called ‘employability’ or ‘transferrable’ skills. Having these in mind when job hunting may help you to be successful.

Employers like you to be:

  • Punctual - a good timekeeper
  • Reliable and trustworthy
  • Polite - able to deal with customers and work-mates
  • Able to work both in a team and alone
  • Confident
  • Enthusiastic and motivated
  • Keen to listen and learn
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Well presented - clean and tidy and appropriately dressed.

Before you start, think about your last job or when you were a student, did you:

  • Always turn up on time? (if so, you were DEPENDABLE)
  • Get on with your work without supervision? (if so, you were RELIABLE)
  • Look after the shop, money, stock or people? (if so, you were RESPONSIBLE)
  • Work well with other people? Your boss, work-mates or teachers? (if so, you were a TEAM WORKER)
  • Do different jobs if necessary? Do extra work when asked? (if so, you were ADAPTABLE)
  • Choose what order to do things in? (if so, you made DECISIONS)
  • Arrange your own work schedules? Meet deadlines? (you used ORGANISING skills)
  • Write down or mark off what you did? (if so, you used RECORDING skills).


  • You can also use things you do as a hobby or interest to show you have a positive attitude to work and can get things done.
  • If you did any training this might be worth including.

Employers look for skills in:

  • Employers look for skills in:
  • Written and spoken English
  • Numeracy - able to work with figures
  • ICT - most jobs involve using computers
  • Problem solving
  • Dealing with people
  • Team work

If you feel you want to improve any of these skills ask the Progress Team.

Short courses are offered by some training providers, local colleges and through Jobcentre Plus. As well as learning new skills you will impress employers with your motivation and attitude to learning.

You may have some job skills already. Think about what you did in any paid or unpaid work, or in training or even in a hobby or spare time activity.

Have you handled money, used tools, operated machinery, dealt with customers or used a computer?

These are your job ‘specific’ skills. Write down:

  • What you did
  • How you did it
  • What you did well

Would doing some voluntary work help you get into the work you want?

You can demonstrate some of these skills in your CV or application form and at interviews

Take time to complete the application neatly and carefully. It is important to check spelling and punctuation and return your application form on time.

Try to match your skills, interests and work experience to the job you are applying for - underline key words on the details. Read the vacancy details or job specification carefully. A personal profile on your CV can be used to bring together the skills and interests you can offer an employer with a vacancy.

Examples of a personal profile statement:

  • I am a hardworking, reliable person with a good record of timekeeping and attendance. I have good practical skills, can use hand and power tools. I am willing to learn and gain new skills.
  • I am a smart, reliable, friendly, adaptable person who enjoys meeting and helping people. A good organiser with excellent IT skills, I am quick to learn and willing to undertake any training required.

Dont’ just copy one of these, have a go at writing your own.


  • Plan your journey and be on time
  • Dress suitably, be polite and enthusiastic. Smile!
  • Speak clearly and look at the interviewer
  • Think through the questions that are often asked. Try to back up statements about your skills with examples of what you’ve done
  • Have some questions ready to ask.

No computer?:

  • You can use a computer and access the internet for job search at your nearest library. Most public libraries also have computers you can use for free but you will pay for printing.
  • For details of UK Online Centres Network where you can access the internet for free

Need more help?

  • The Progress Team can help you with job applications. Ask your adviser in school or contact the Progress Team in islington on 0207 527 7031 or email
  • Call the National Careers Service helpline on 0800 100 900 for further help. Webchat is also available. If you us the ‘call back service’ on the website,
    An adviser will call you back at a time to suit you. All call backs are free of charge to mobiles and landlines.

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