While the job creation in Canada remains sluggish and the unemployment rate continues to hold at around 7.4%, many employers are still struggling to find the talent they need to hire. How is that possible?  It’s largely caused by a disconnect between the skills that candidates have (or that they are promoting on their resumes) vs. what hiring managers are actually looking for.

DeVry University recently released their annual The Job Preparedness Indicator, a survey designed to measure the disparity between candidate skills and employer expectations. “We launched the Job Preparedness Indicator to better prepare candidates for success in their job search,” said Dr. Claude Toland vice president of Career Services at DeVry University. “The research shows there is a tremendous opportunity for job seekers to realign their approach with hiring managers to achieve career goals while meeting employers’ needs.”

What were the top in-demand skills that surveyed employers are seeking?

  • Strategic perspective,
  • High integrity,
  • Global outlook,
  • Strong base work ethic/dependable
  • and accountability.

Nearly 60% of job seekers surveyed are pursuing mid-level or managerial positions. However, hiring managers said that most of the candidates they see still lack the managerial skills – strategic perspective, global outlook and business acumen – that they need for those roles.

Infographic: What Employers want and what candidates need to get. (With thanks to the Career Advisory Board.)

Since the disconnect between what skills candidates are focusing on versus what employers are looking for is hurting people’s chances on the job market, we decided to look a little deeper into what the most in-demand skills are right now. The U.S. based National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently released their Job Outlook 2012 report, a survey of employers’ hiring intentions for the year. (While these are based on an American survey, given the similarities and proximities of our economies, I think these learnings are still useful for Canadian candidates. I’ll post insights from this country as soon as I have them.)

The top bachelor’s degrees in demand by employers right now?

  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Business Administration/Mgmt.
  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Engineering
  • Economics
  • Logistics/Materials Management


Interestingly, the NACE report also lists the top attributes that employers are looking to see demonstrated in candidate resumes. Here are the top five qualities:

  • Ability to work in a team
  • Leadership
  • Communication skills (written)
  • Problem-solving skill
  • Strong work ethic

And what are the ten most important candidate skills/abilities that Job Outlook 2012 survey says employers say they are looking for in their potential hires?

  • Ability to work in a team structure
  • Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
  • Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  • Ability to obtain and process information
  • Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
  • Ability to analyze quantitative data
  • Technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software program
  • Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  • Ability to sell or influence others

When you’re writing or updating your resume or online profiles, keep in mind what skills are most in demand, and highlight how you have what employers are looking for.


Peter Harris