New study reveals top 10 skills Canadian employers are looking for

A new study could shed light on how to land that job.
A new study could shed light on how to land that job.

TORONTO — A new study on what it takes to land a job in Canada finds that improving your soft skills may be more crucial than taking that extra college course.

In a survey of 256 Canadian employers conducted this spring by Workopolis, one third indicated plans to increase staff over the next year. But employers said finding the right candidate for the job can be a problem, as much as 68 per cent of the time.

“We’re seeing a lot of anxiety among recent grads when it comes to their job prospects, but we have found that employers are having a similar struggle filling positions,” said Tara Talbot, VP of Human Resources with Workopolis.

Respondents said that when it came to the things candidates lack, experience was ranked first with 38 per cent. A frustrating conundrum for people looking to launch their careers fresh out of school.

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On the other hand, the survey suggested that a lack of education is rarely the problem: that came last on the list with just four per cent.

Soft skills came second at 29 per cent and technical skills third at 23 per cent. The report stated that while Canadians are adding more and more education to their resumes, it’s experience and skills employers seek.

“According to the employers we surveyed, it is on-the-job experience, interpersonal skills, and technical abilities that they want. And the soft skills outweigh the technical,” the report stated.

Out of all the job listings on the Workopolis site since 2014, the top ten skills requested by prospective employers were as follows:

  • Communication skills
  • Writing
  • Customer relations
  • Sales
  • Organizational skills
  • Microsoft office
  • Policy analysis
  • Supervisory skills/leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork

“With more than 3,000 different skills requested across our job postings, young job seekers would be wise to round out their resumes with more than just good grades and credentials,” said Talbot.

Many of these skills can be gained through jobs not directly related to your desired career, or through volunteering.

Another path to success? Being tech savvy with skills that are in-demand like HTML5, Google Analytics, jQuery and social media. Digital literacy is also crucial, from basic to advanced computer skills.

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Money can also be an issue when it comes to employers finding the right candidate. While 68 per cent of employers indicated it can be difficult finding the right candidate, “one-third (30 per cent) said that they attribute the difficulty hiring to the fact that candidates are unwilling to work for the salary offered.”

Whether that is a sign of stagnating wages or over-confident candidates is unclear.

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