Employers Looking for Students to Solve Problems


By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

More than any other attribute, employers first and foremost are looking for problem-solving skills from entry-level job applicants.  That’s according to a new National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey of employers from across the country. 

NACE asked organizations what they are looking for on the resumes of students they are recruiting. A total of 157 organizations of all sizes responded to the survey. Nearly 86% of those responding listed problem-solving skills.  Analytical/quantitative skills came in second (78.6%), and ability to work as part of a team was third (76.3%). These same three attributes (problem-solving, analytical, and teamwork) were in the top three last year as well.

The biggest increase in what employers are looking for on resumes (compared to 2021 results) was for the attribute of detail orientation (up 6.5% from 2021).  Employers are also putting more emphasis on a strong work ethic, up 5.6% to 70%.  

A career coach at the UofL University Career Center, Rosie Shannon, said students preparing for the job market should pay attention to these results as they fine tune their resumes.  “Students should always tailor their resume to show the employer how they are a good fit for the job opportunity.  Most importantly students should read the job description carefully and make a list of the attributes/skills needed for that particular position, and then be sure to list those attributes/skills on their resume.  These attributes can be listed in the student's ‘summary profile’ section or listed in short bullet statements in their work experience section, highlighting their accomplishments utilizing these skills.”

The full results of the NACE study on important resume attributes is included in the table below. 

 NACE Resume Attributes