Employability Skills Checklist – What Employers Say Are Fundamental Skills Required for Job Success

by Cindy Leggott

Job searching in the current labour market is nothing short of tough and frustrating.  As the lead Facilitator in the Youth Employment Readiness Program, many participants ask the question “How do I know what an employer wants from me?” Here is a summary of research done by the Conference Board of Canada regarding the top 5 skills employers say are the most essential skills employees need in order to gain and maintain employment.


  1. Communicate – It is important to remember effective workplace communication does not just mean how well you speak. According to this research, being able to effectively communicate employees need to:
  • Able to read and understand information that is given
  • Speak and write in ways that co-workers can understand
  • Listen well and ask questions for clarification
  • Share information where appropriate


  1. Manage Information Responsibly – Employers suggest that managing information can take a combination of professional and personal focus. After all, people are a package deal with professional and personal roles they play every day. Employers suggest employees show strong skill when can balance their life roles and:
  • Contribute to your team by sharing information and expertise where appropriate
  • Learn workplace technologies that assist in gathering and organizing information
  • Set goals and priorities in a way that provides you with a work-life balance
  • Plan and manage your time to get daily tasks completed


  1. Think and Solve Problems – This may be difficult when you first start a new position but don’t panic. Within the first 3 months of a new job, you will have witnessed problem-solving in action and have a better “feel” for problem-solving methods that will work in your particular job role.  Employers suggest the most important skills for an employee to be able to use are:
  • Assess situations and identify potential problems
  • Identify root causes of problems and be prepared to work through potential solutions
  • Be ok with conflict because sometimes conflict can lead to creative solutions that work


  1. Demonstrate A Positive Attitude – Over my professional career, I have heard so many employers say “If an employee has a positive attitude I can train them to do a job. I can’t train attitude.  Here is a condensed list of what employer’s told Employability 2000+ shows a positive attitude:
  • Feel good about yourself and be confident
  • Handle your job with honesty, integrity and professional and personal ethics
  • Take care of your personal health
  • Recognize your own efforts as well as the efforts of co-workers
  • Show appropriate initiative and effort


  1. Work with Others – Teamwork can be rewarding but it also can be challenging. Be assured that both sides of teamwork are normal.  Skill around being an effective team member suggests you can:
  • Be Flexible
  • Work within a group
  • Show interest, motivation and effort
  • Recognize and respect the diversity and the different perspectives of each individual team member
  • Provide feedback in a considerate, constructive manner


Sometimes when we are working at demonstrating skills it can feel awkward or give us a nervous feeling.  However, if we can think ahead of time of a mental picture of how we could display these skills the skills and your personal confidence to do them effectively will become more natural with practice.  In the Youth Employment Readiness Program participants often struggle with what these essential skills look like.  If this sounds like you here is a suggested activity you might try:


Activity Idea

As you read and reflect on how you can demonstrate these essential skills to employers, I encourage you to think about a time you have been working with others.  This could be at work, volunteering or as a member of a sports team.  What were the people you were with doing or saying that made you feel valued or an important part of the team?  Chances are if you have had experiences feeling valued you have seen some of these essential skills in action and can apply them to employment success.


Please note the information in this article is adapted from the websites of the Conference Board of Canada. The complete article can be found at https://www.conferenceboard.ca/spse/employability-skills.aspx


If you need support or guidance to improve your Employability Skills please contact Regina Work Preparation Centre.  Our staff and programming options may be just what you need to start you on an employment journey that works for you.