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Phoenix Forward

Want a job? Check out the top 5 skills employers are seeking right now

This may surprise you: Unemployment has been hovering at 9 percent, and yet employers are having trouble filling positions. George DeMetropolis, manufacturing and leadership consultant, and a faculty member for the University of Phoenix business management program, explains that changes in the workforce may call for different employee skills.

"Many businesses are adopting a participative management style, which involves employees in decision-making," he says. "They need employees who are capable and willing to participate in business planning and other essential operational functions."

DeMetropolis appears to be on to something. According to a recent study, 53 percent of the 1,786 business executives who were surveyed in 2011 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and University of Phoenix say that hiring and retaining quality staff is their top challenge.

For employees who are looking to develop a new set of skills that will help them become more valuable workers, here are the five job skills that executives in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia have identified as most important to them:

 

1. Collaboration.

When employees are able to work in cooperation with co-workers, employers can effectively leverage each person's strength to achieve a common goal. "The Learning Team environment at University of Phoenix allows students to collaborate on team assignments and develop this skill and apply it to the workplace," says DeMetropolis, who emphasizes developing this critical talent.

2. Willingness to learn.

As industries grow or markets change, this characteristic allows businesses to rapidly modify strategy and direction. "Employers prize versatility," DeMetropolis says. "To stay employed, job seekers must learn new skills to adapt to changing market conditions."

3. Communication.

DeMetropolis is emphatic about the importance of this job skill. "Good communication is needed to convey a message, present a plan or voice an opinion — it's essential to getting things done," he says. "In my opinion, this is a key skill that enhances all the other skills that employers want, and it's necessary in every type of business environment."

4. Critical thinking.

"I think that [this is] necessary to the planning process," DeMetropolis says. "Although the ability to plan is thought of as a management skill, everyone must have it to participate and be successful in today's organizations."

5. Ability to analyze.

As a management consultant, DeMetropolis believes that workers need this quality to get ahead. "Employees have to grasp and understand the work that's been assigned to them," he explains, "and be ready to move ahead by recognizing the need for new skills and integrating them."

Employers identify top 5 job skills

  • Ability to analyze & synthesize new skills
  • Ability & willingness to learn
  • Critical thinking & problem solving
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Colloboration

Chicago

  • Critical thinking & problem solving - 83%
  • The ability & willingness to learn new skills - 82%
  • Collaboration/teamwork skills - 77%
  • The ability to analyze & synthesize information - 70%
  • Interpersonal communication - 69%
  • Subject matter expertise - 55%
  • The ability to develop a strategic plan & implement it - 53%
  • Software skills & business processes - 43%
  • Project management - 41%
  • Social media & online communication skills - 32%

Los Angeles

  • Collaboration/teamwork skills - 84%
  • Interpersonal communication - 83%
  • Critical thinking & problem solving - 80%
  • The ability & willingness to learn new skills - 79%
  • The ability to analyze & synthesize information - 63%
  • The ability to develop a strategic plan & implement it - 43%
  • Subject matter expertise - 42%
  • Project management - 34%
  • Software skills & business processes - 29%
  • Social media & online communication skills - 29%

Philadelphia

  • Collaboration/teamwork skills - 87%
  • Interpersonal communication - 87%
  • Critical thinking & problem solving - 83%
  • The ability & willingness to learn new skills - 82%
  • The ability to analyze & synthesize information - 70%
  • The ability to develop a strategic plan & implement it - 48%
  • Subject matter expertise - 34%
  • Project management - 33%
  • Software skills & business processes - 21%
  • Social media & online communication skills - 17%

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