What Employers Expect From 2013 Graduates


Communication skills are evident in each of the top 10 qualities being sought in new employees, according to the latest survey of major employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).  These desired skills are not only expected for PR graduates, but also for all hires, thus underscoring the value and broader potential for communication degrees.

Although writing appears ninth on this list, it remains the number one skill if you want to excel in public relations.  I further contend that the ability to write is inherent in each of the other skills being sought by employers today.

Sadly, writing remains a weak point in our profession. I blame elementary and high schools for failing to sufficiently emphasize its importance, and many colleges and employers for not enforcing higher standards.  Until standards are raised, it’s important for those who acknowledge their need for writing help to seek it, not avoid it.  Take an elective writing course, visit campus writing centers and read articles, memos and speeches written by leaders in whatever profession you’re pursuing.

Employers rate the importance of candidate skills/qualities


Weighted average rating*

Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization


Ability to work in a team structure


Ability to make decisions and solve problems


Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work


Ability to obtain and process information


Ability to analyze quantitative data


Technical knowledge related to the job


Proficiency with computer software programs


Ability to create and/or edit written reports


Ability to sell or influence others


*5-point scale, where 1=Not at all important; 2=Not very important; 3=Somewhat important; 4=Very important; and 5=Extremely important

Source: Job Outlook 2013, National Association of Colleges and Employers

6 thoughts on “What Employers Expect From 2013 Graduates

  1. I’m always looking at news jobs and ways to further develop my experience and career. That being said, I was very curious to see what employers are really looking for. I’m really not surprised by what I found. Its obviously critical for people to be able to communicate effectively – both inside and outside of the organization. Technological skills and techniques can be taught to most prospects, but communication skills are developed over time and much harder to instill through new hire training.

  2. I agree that writing skills are one of the most important and essential traits a PR professional must perfect. I find it interesting that the “Ability to create and/or edit written reports” is even included as its own trait on the list, because I feel like that is a huge part of several of the previous desired skills. Particularly in the “Ability to work in a team structure,” the “Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work,” and the “Ability to obtain and process information,” creating written reports seems essential. One’s ideas are useless to a team and/or organization as a whole if the individual cannot communicate their ideas clearly. Others need to be able to see and understand the vision or idea that the PR professional sees, and that can best be portrayed to multiple colleagues through clear and concise writing. I look forward to perfecting my writing and communication skills even more after having read this insightful post with concrete research to show.

  3. I found your blog post beneficial. In December, I will will be a college graduate looking for a job in the PR field and it is important that I am aware what employers are looking for. I agree that the ability to work in teams is a skill that is essential in the PR profession. I have cultivated this skill through many class projects. That being said, I was interested to know how one should promote their skills as a good communicator in teams. Is it best to highlight this ability in a cover letter or offer examples of group work in an interview?

  4. Nicole: Best to highlight teamwork in your interview since it’s common for most applicants to mention in cover letters where there isn’t enough space to provide sufficient details.

  5. Hello,
    My name is Jordan and I am a senior at Southeast Missouri State University. I am currently graduating in May with a double major in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Writing. I appreciate your blog post because it is a great reminder that I am never finished learning. I always take advantage of various opportunities that will help me improve my skills in writing, communication, persuasion and creativity. Besides having the crucial qualities you mentioned in your post, what are some others ways I can stand out in an interview and show that I am qualified and passionate about the potential job? What could an interviewee do that would exceed your expectations for an interview?

    1. Jordan: First of all, the fact you are minoring in English will stand out to prospective employers, most of whom are frustrated with the writing ability of most applicants. To build on that major plus, you might want to proactively write something about the agency or one of its clients as a demonstration of your thought process and writing ability. Such unsolicited materials exceed initial interview expectations, and will underscore your interest in the firm.

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