• Employers Say Verbal Communication Most Important Candidate Skill

    CONTACT: Kevin Gray, 610.868.1421, ext. 139
    Andrea Koncz, 610.868.1421, ext. 121
    E-MAIL: kgray@naceweb.org
    DATE: March 1, 2016
    SUBJECT: Employers Say Verbal Communication Most Important Candidate Skill

    BETHLEHEM, PA—When asked to assess candidate skills/qualities, employers rated verbal communication skills the most important, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    While employers typically look first for evidence that the candidate has the requisite knowledge to perform a job and has some level of proficiency—often indicated by major and GPA for new college graduates—they also seek key skills that enable workers to use their knowledge effectively in the workplace.

    In assessing such skills, employers responding to NACE’s Job Outlook 2016 survey deemed verbal communication skills as the most important, rating it slightly above teamwork  and the ability to make decisions and solve problems, the two skills that tied for the top spot last year. (See Figure 1.)

    While the remainder of the list has not changed at all in terms of order compared to last year, more of the skills/qualities were rated just below 4.0 (“very important”) than last year. Just two skills/qualities were rated below 4.0 last year—ability to create and/or edit written reports and the ability to sell or influence others.

    While those two remain at the bottom of this year’s list, they are joined by technical knowledge related to the job and proficiency with computer software programs with ratings under 4.0.

    Results of the annual Job Outlook survey—especially employer insight into the skills they seek in new college graduate job candidates—served as one of the foundation pieces upon which NACE constructed its Career Readiness Competencies.

    Figure 1: Employers rate the importance of candidate skills/qualities

    Skill/Quality Weighted Average Rating
    Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization 4.63
    Ability to work in a team structure 4.62
    Ability to make decisions and solve problems 4.49
    Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work 4.41
    Ability to obtain and process information 4.34
    Ability to analyze quantitative data 4.21
    Technical knowledge related to the job 3.99
    Proficiency with computer software programs 3.86
    Ability to create and/or edit written reports 3.60
    Ability to sell or influence others 3.55
    Source: Job Outlook 2016, National Association of Colleges and Employers
    *5-point scale, where 1=Not at all important; 2=Not very important; 3=Somewhat important; 4=Very important; and 5=Extremely important

    About the Job Outlook 2016 survey: The Job Outlook 2016 survey was conducted from August 5, 2015, through September 13, 2015, among NACE employer members. A total of 201 NACE employer members participated in the survey—a 20.1 percent response rate. Of those responding, 12.4 percent of respondents were from the West, 22.4 percent were from the Northeast, 31.8 percent were from the Southeast, and 33.3 percent were from the Midwest.

    About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit www.naceweb.org. NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media at www.naceweb.org/press-releases.aspx.