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  • Employers Seek Teamwork, Problem-Solving Skills on Resumes

    CONTACT: Kevin Gray, 610.868.1421, ext. 139
    Andrea Koncz, 610.868.1421, ext. 121
    DATE: February 16, 2017
    SUBJECT: Employers Seek Teamwork, Problem-Solving Skills on Resumes

    BETHLEHEM, PA—Employers considering new college graduates for job openings are looking for strong team players who can solve problems and possess strong communication skills, according to results of a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    When NACE asked employers participating in its Job Outlook 2017 survey which attributes—beyond a solid GPA—they look for on a candidate's resume, three-quarters or more said they seek candidates who demonstrate strong teamwork (78 percent), problem-solving (77.3 percent), and written communication skills (75.0 percent). (See Figure 1.)

    A good work ethic (72.0 percent) and solid verbal communication skills (70.5 percent) are highly valued as well.

    Employers also noted that when choosing between two equally qualified candidates, academic major, leadership skills, participation in extracurricular activities, and a high GPA have the most significant influence on their decision. (See Figure 2.)

    Figure 1: Attributes employers seek on a candidate’s resume

    Attribute % of respondents
    Ability to work in a team 78.0%
    Problem-solving skills 77.3%
    Communication skills (written) 75.0%
    Strong work ethic 72.0%
    Communication skills (verbal) 70.5%
    Leadership 68.9%
    Initiative 65.9%
    Analytical/quantitative skills 64.4%
    Flexibility/adaptability 63.6%
    Detail-oriented 62.1%
    Interpersonal skills (relates well to others) 58.3%
    Technical skills 56.8%
    Computer skills 49.2%
    Organizational ability 47.7%
    Strategic planning skills 37.9%
    Friendly/outgoing personality 25.8%
    Tactfulness 25.8%
    Creativity 21.2%
    Entrepreneurial skills/risk-taker 19.7%
    Fluency in a foreign language 4.5%
    Source: Job Outlook 2017, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: Influence of attributes on hiring decision

    Attribute 2017 Average Influence Rating*
    Major 4.0
    Has held leadership position 3.9
    Has been involved in extracurricular activities (clubs, sports, student government, etc.) 3.6
    High GPA (3.0 or above) 3.6
    School attended 2.9
    Has done volunteer work 2.6
    Is fluent in a foreign language 2.1
    Has studied abroad 2.0
    *5-point scale, where 1=No influence at all, 2=Not much influence, 3=Somewhat of an influence, 4=Very much influence, and 5=Extreme influence.
    Source: Job Outlook 2017, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    About the Job Outlook 2017 Survey: The Job Outlook survey is a forecast of hiring intentions of employers as they relate to new college graduates. Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys its employer members about their hiring plans and other employment-related issues in order to project the market for new college graduates for the current class and to assess a variety of conditions that may influence that market. The survey is conducted in two parts: fall and spring. This release is based on data gathered in the fall. Data were collected from August 5, 2016, through October 4, 2016, for the Job Outlook 2017 survey. A total of 169 NACE-member organizations participated—a 17 percent response rate. By region, 13.6 percent of respondents were from the West, 26.6 percent were from the Northeast, 25.4 percent were from the Southeast, and 34.3 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 NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media at