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  • The Key Attributes Employers Seek on College Graduates’ Resumes

    BETHLEHEM, PA—With fewer employers screening job candidates by GPA, it is increasingly important that college graduates demonstrate key attributes such as teamwork and problem-solving skills on their resumes, according to new research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    NACE’s Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update reports that just 56.6% of responding employers are using GPA to screen college graduates from the Class of 2021 for open positions, a steep plunge from the nearly 75% that used this method two years ago.

    To account for this shift, college graduates should highlight attributes important to employers on their resumes. Atop this list are teamwork and problem-solving skills; roughly eight in 10 responding employers indicate they will be looking for evidence of these attributes on the resumes they review. (See Figure 1.)

    Approximately three-quarters of employers surveyed want to see indications of candidates’ analytical and both verbal and written communication skills, while initiative, leadership, and technical skills are being sought by more than two-thirds of respondents this year.  

    Figure 1: Attributes Employers Seek on a Candidate’s Resume

    Attribute Percent of Respondents
    Ability to work in a team 81.0%
    Problem-solving skills 79.0%
    Analytical/quantitative skills 76.1%
    Communication skills (verbal) 73.2%
    Communication skills (written) 72.7%
    Initiative 67.8%
    Leadership 67.8%
    Technical skills 67.8%
    Flexibility/adaptability 65.9%
    Strong work ethic 65.4%
    Source: Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    About NACE’s Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update: The Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update survey updates hiring projections for the Class of 2021. The original projections were reported in Job Outlook 2021, which was published in October 2020. The Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update survey was conducted from February 17 – March 12, 2021. Of the 207 total respondents, 146 were NACE employer members, representing 17.1% of eligible member respondents. The Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update survey was also distributed to nonmember companies; this group provided an additional 61 responses. 

    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.