Skip to Main Content

Life After College: What Employers Want

What Employers Want
Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.

Beyond the Work Skills

Employers look for various skills and abilities in their workers, but they also want to see you thinking about your own path and future.

Here are a few areas of thinking employers want to you to have a grasp of. 

Have an Understanding of Your Own Path

Can you tell your story in a way that it shows how you've followed an interest or passion of yours to get where you are today?If you can, this shows that you see the progression of an idea and have the drive to follow through. It also shows that you know what you want in your life and career. 

Know Your Future Career Goals and Plans

These are you short and long-term career goals and ambitions. Do you know where you want to be in five or ten years, or are you just floating along and hoping for the best? Employers want to have workers who have personal goals and ambitions in the workplace. If you want to be a team manager within the next five years, let your employer know, and lay out how you imagine getting there. For example, because you want to be a team manager, you want to be a part of different teams to see how they function and interact with each other, and you also want to manage others when the opportunity knocks.

Point to Your Successes

When someone asks you about a time you were successful, what comes to mind? And can you talk about that experience and how you got there? Your successes can be simple, just make sure to show how and why they were your successes. 

Know Your Strengths

So often you are asked what are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the workplace. Know what your strengths are and play into them. If you are an outgoing and interactive person, make sure that you highlight your ability to interact with other team members and are able to motivate them throughout a project. If you are organized and detailed oriented, show off that skill through perfecting the tiny details that made the presentation pop. 

Be Proactive

Proactive employees don't wait to be told what to do. Instead, they jump into action when they see a way to help. And if you see something that might not be in your job description area, bring it to your bosses and let them know how you would tackle the problem. This shows them that you saw an issue or opportunity and are willing and ready to tackle it (with their go-ahead). 

What Employers Look For

You've created your resume, you've written a cover letter, and now you are preparing for your interviews. All of the job descriptions you read look like employers want experience above everything else, and while experience is important, it isn't the only thing employers are looking for in a candidate. 

Explore what employers are looking for in a job candidate. 

Communication Skills

Strong and effective communication skills are highly valued by employers. It is important to show how you (as the employee) are able to communicate and share your thoughts with others. And this skill isn't limited to only verbal communication - it is also tied to written communication as well. Being able to write clear and concise emails, memos, and more is essential when it comes to showing off your communication skills. Also, another key component to good communication skills is the ability to actively listen and provide thoughtful feedback.

Honesty and Accountability 

Being honest is always a character trait that you should strive to both embody and share. You might be tempted to exaggerate your qualifications (far beyond your current skill level) or tempted to take credit of someone else's work, but your employer will most likely discover the truth.

Along with honesty, employers also value accountability. This means that you take ownership of both your actions and their outcomes. If you made a mistake, own up to it and show that you have learned from the event (and that you will do better next time). Take responsibility for yourself and the situations you are in. 

Adaptability and Flexibility 

Things change all the time, and it is important that you are able to roll with the punches and change as well. Be adaptable and flexible, and have the ability to move forward as well (both as a person and in your thinking). Nothing is worse to an employer than an employee who is stuck in a rut and unwilling to change to move forward. 

Problem Solving

Things rarely go as planned, and it is important to show your employer that you are able to fix problems as they come up. It is important to be able to solve and handle the small problems that come up during your workday. Not every issue that appears during the day warrants asking your supervisor or bosses on how to handle it. Showing that you can fix the little things and keep them up to date with the larger issues shows that you are a problem solver (and independent enough to fix issues as they come up). 


Almost every work environment will require you to work with others (in some capacity). Teamwork and being a team player is an important skill to have. Most likely, you will be asked about your teamwork abilities during the interview, so be prepared to answer how you are able to work as a team - and remember to show that you are able to function in different team roles (including team leader and helper/worker). 

Planning, Organization, and Time Management 

It always seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to finish all of the tasks you want to accomplish. That's okay and to be expected, but employers want to see that you are able to plan, organize, and manage your time and tasks to ensure things get done when they need to. Along with time, the ability to manage multiple projects at the same time is also important to employers. 

© 2023 McGovern Library, Dakota Wesleyan University

Email: | Phone: (605) 995-2618 | 1200 W. University Ave, Mitchell, SD 57301