The Experts Speak: Ten Things Your Future Employers Want You to Learn

As part of a research study, we interviewed 25 corporate communication professionals about the competencies they seek in new employees. We promised confidentiality for the study, so we won’t include their names, but we pulled some direct quotes from the interviews of these local professionals about what they look for in their new employees

1. Tech Savvy – Basic Web Design, Adobe Suite, Excel, MS Office, Basic Video Editing

  • “Over the last seven or eight years as we become more and more of a digital agency, we look for people who have had some experience with or exposure to more marketing things, more web design, web analytics, database management… When I got here everything started with the press release.  The press release is probably the least of what we do now.” (Partner at Public Relations Firm)

2. Presentation Skills – Eye Contact, Gestures, PowerPoint, Confidence

  • “I won the best sales presentation, because [my colleagues] knew the technicalities of the product but they didn’t know how to stand up and interact with people and make eye contact and sell the pitch…. it made my boss realize that I have a great skill set of being able to stand up in front of people and give a presentation.  And I do a lot of that in my job.” (Marketing Specialist)

3. Writing – Clean, Clear, Creative—Email, Blog Posts, Tweets, News Releases, White Papers

  • Writing is huge and unfortunately, we only have a couple of really good writers.  … there is also something about an inherent understanding of voice in writing too.  You could be a master of grammar but still not write well because you are not getting the voice of the project. That takes the deep understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish, the end goal.” (Director of Project Development at a Media Company)

4. Strategic Thinking – From Goal, to Strategy, to Tactic

  • “Being able to ask the questions and understand the why is very important to us… we have to understand our clients’ business objectives, because we don’t communicate for the sake of communicating.” (President of a Communications Firm)

5. Willingness to Learn – Listen, Ask Questions, Be Curious

  • We have the philosophy that everybody should be able to do anything…School never stops” (Partner at a Public Relations Firm)
  •  “I want them to ask me so I can give them the shortcut to the thing, if they don’t know.  Don’t make me pay you to struggle, right?” (CEO and Talent Consultant)

6. Initiative – Understand the Vision, Don’t Wait to be Told What to Do, Ask for More

  • “Millennials can have this sort of fear communicating upward and it’s so important to not have that because that’s how you are going to find success is by just setting those meetings and talking to your managers.” (Senior Sales Representative)
  • “We are really after people that they come in and they just hit the ground running, and they are hungry and they just you know, they want to get stuff done, they are excited.” (Manager, Training & Development).
  • “If you wait for people to tell you what to do and you only do what they tell you to do, you’re not going to advance in any career.” (Marketing Coordinator)

7. Listening – Take Notes, Focus, Put Down the Phone

  • “Just sitting in meetings, absorbing everything that you can.  Taking lots of notes…Instead of me thinking about, like, what am I going to say?” (Marketing Specialist)
  • “I learned, sitting in a meeting, I don’t need to have my computer open in front of me because I am going to be responding to emails and I am not focusing on what I need to be doing.” (Recruiter & Engagement Leader)

8. Interpersonal Competence – Conversational Competence, Intercultural Awareness

  • “They got to be able to hold a conversation… represent the company well.” (Director of Operations for a Recruiting Firm)
  • “Working for a global company and seeing the different types of people that come through…how I respond to different people kind of varies just based off of their cultural background… certain things aren’t going to sit as well with some people that might with others.” (Human Resources Specialist)

9. Time Management – Be Punctual, Manage Deadlines, Prioritize

  • “You get people right out of college and they love to be left to their own devices. They don’t necessarily know that it might be healthier…and more productive for you to put in 9 to 5 versus 9 to 12 and then 6 to 10, you know? Like, it’s not the same as going through your different classes and then studying late at night or something.”  (Recruiter & Engagement Leader)
  • “Don’t make me come ask at the deadline where it is.” (Founder of a Public Relations Firm)
  • “You’re going to have a ton of different responsibilities and you’re going to have to know how to prioritize them…there’s no one showing you how to do this. (Marketing Specialist)

10. Teamwork

  • In school we are taught to work on projects… we sweat it out… we did our own work.  But at work, I don’t want them doing their own work.  I want them collaborating.” (CEO and Talent Consultant)
  •  I work for small business, so like my job title is technically Social Media Coordinator and… I haven’t done anything in social media for over a week because I am picking up and wearing so many other hats, just like everyone else in the company. So just being a team player is huge.” (Inside Sales and Social Media Specialist)
  •  While I was working in sales and moving up to management, the reason I was able to move up to management was because I was able to work with my teammates.” (Senior Sales Representative)