The Key Attributes Employers Are Looking for on Graduates’ Resumes

January 16, 2024 | By Kevin Gray

Candidate Selection
Someone reviews a stack of resumes.

TAGS: nace insights, surveys, trends and predictions,

Students hoping to catch the eye of potential employers through their resume should forego relying only on their strong GPA and instead highlight the attributes and skills they developed in their classwork and through their various experiential assignments, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2024 report.

NACE Dashboard: Access and Analyze the NACE 2024 Job Outlook Survey Data
In addition to having access to the Job Outlook 2024 report, NACE members also receive access to and can analyze the full set of data from the Job Outlook 2024 survey through the report’s dashboard in MyNACE. This is an invaluable way for your team to gain insight into trends and issues, and enhance your ability to develop solutions and advocate for and market your department. For directions and tips on how to use a NACE research report dashboard, please see this YouTube video.

When asked what attributes they are looking for on the resumes of the job candidates they consider for their job openings, nearly 90% of employers responding to the Job Outlook 2024 survey indicated they are seeking evidence of a student’s ability to solve problems and nearly 80% are seeking candidates who have strong teamwork skills. (See Figure 1.)

In addition, at least two-thirds of employers report looking for:

  • A strong work ethic;
  • Written and verbal communication skills;
  • Analytical/quantitative skills;
  • Flexibility/adaptability; and
  • Technical skills.

Beyond these attributes, it is also important for students to highlight the internship experience they gained—both with an employer’s organization and within its industry—during their college career. Employers cite internship experience as the top deciding factor when they are deciding between two equally qualified candidates for a job opening.

As we have seen in recent years, employer use of GPA as a screening tool is plummeting, down 35% from just five years ago. In this year’s survey, just 38.3% of respondents plan to use GPA as a criterion in their college hiring process. (See Figure 2.)

Data for the Job Outlook 2024 survey were collected from August 2, 2023, through September 18, 2023. Of the 255 total respondents, 180 were NACE employer members, representing 20.3% of eligible member respondents. The Job Outlook 2024 survey was also distributed to nonmember companies, from which an additional 75 responses were received. NACE members can access the Job Outlook 2024 report in MyNACE.

Figure 1

Figure 2

blank default headshot of a user Kevin Gray is an associate editor at NACE. He can be reached at