Is it a lack of technical skills employers are most concerned about when they consider hiring college graduates? Nah, those can be learned.  It’s the lack of soft skills employers are concerned about.


What do the following skills have in common: writing, presentation, teamwork, and critical thinking?

According to an article on, What Employers Wish You’d Learned in College, these are valuable skills lacking in most college grads with technical degrees.

True, they have the technical know-how but, “When soft skills are lacking, there’s a direct effect on the bottom line,” the article asserts.

Written communications

We all realize that writing is an important skill, but what does it have to do with being an engineer?

A lot, according to HR director Amanda Pollack who is quoted in the article: “A big part of what we do as engineers is write reports and specifications for our plans, and we find that writing isn’t something that is really taught to engineers.”

Verbal communications

In addition to written communications, we can’t neglect to mention the importance of verbal communications, listening skills, and body language. These all contribute to effective communications. College students should be taught proper communications and have to practice it in real-life situations.


Another skill held in high regard by employers is being able to function as a team. “Most importantly, employers are looking for teamwork,” said Brian Tabinga, a program manager who is quoted in the article.

No surprise here. Companies are working with less, while trying to produce more. Tabinga, who works with military members, says there’s no difference between the military and private sector in terms of trying to meet their collective needs.

Critical thinking/Problem solving

The last skill the article mentions is critical thinking. Tabinga states, “Critical thinking means being able to look at a problem from multiple angles.

A lot of times you are trained to go from A to B in a straight line, and that’s not always what’s needed. Critical thinking means taking a step back to look at multiple solutions,” The article says.

What to do?

All is not lost. For new graduates looking to stand out in the workplace, there are ways to get up to speed on these skills. The article gives three suggestions to help graduates develop these skills once in the workforce:

  • Get a mentor.
  • Listen openly to feedback from your supervisor.
  • Join young professional groups.

About Things Career Related
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center. Jobseekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search.