If you’re in the job market – and let’s face it, most of us are – there will undoubtedly come a time when you have to impress an employer, whether at an interview, recruitment day or on the job. The problem is that what candidates think employers want and what they actually want can be very different indeed. More and more, employers are shunning people with technical skills in favour of those who display the kind of attitudes or values they want to see more of in their firms, yet many workers still think their education is what matters most when trying to give employers what they want.

What’s driving the change in the skills employers want? Part of the difference has to do with the changing value of skills in the labour market. In the past, technical skills were in high demand. Companies needed people who could do their accounts, engineer their products, and design their tools. But over the last several decades there’s been a “hollowing out” of these middle-skilled workers, thanks to automation and improvements in software. Now middle-of-the-road technical skills just aren’t as valued as they used to be.

That’s led to a shift in what employers want from new employees. It’s no longer so much about what you know – although this is still important in many industries – it’s more about how you fit into the corporate culture, how well you engage with other members of your team, and whether you have the aptitude to continue learning throughout your career. The bottom line: skills can be acquired, but tacit personality traits, in general, cannot.

So what are the top skills employers want from the people under their command? Let’s take a look.


Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in one’s head and then have them battle it out using reason and evidence until there is a victor. Employers who can apply their rational faculties to the problems that their employers face, whatever the capacity, are extremely valuable because they can help a business make better decisions. Employees with critical thinking skills don’t continue to perform rote tasks until they get stuck: they come up with inventive solutions that can help a company overcome obstacles in its path.

So how do you build critical thinking skills? That’s a complicated question and not one that you’ll find a short answer to if you look into it. But suffice to say that logic-oriented games, like Go, can help build the parts of the brain that are involved in creatively solving problems.


Commercial Awareness

If you’re coming out of education, then there’s a good chance that you won’t have much market experience. That’s okay – after all, you’ve been learning about your subject. Employers won’t expect you to have profound commercial awareness at this stage, but by showing a modicum of business acumen, you’ll indicate that you have the ability to see what makes a company tick and, ultimately, what decisions will likely be in the best interest of the company. Meeting customers needs is likely to go down well, whereas spending the advertising budget on tacky mascots probably won’t.


Negotiation Skills

People think that negotiation is the same as bargaining: you just keep hammering away until you wear the other person down and get what you want. But negotiation, as defined in the proper sense,  doesn’t have anything to do with bargaining at all.

Negotiation is the strategy creative people use to achieve win-win solutions in situations where there appears to be conflict. The task of the negotiator is to come up with outcomes that benefit everyone that nobody has yet thought up. Negotiation, therefore, is a kind of creativity where a person sets themselves the challenge of making sure that all people leave the negotiating table happier than when they started.

Of course, successful negotiation isn’t always possible. Sometimes for one person to win, another has to lose, but this isn’t always the case. People who can negotiate are highly valuable to employers because of their ability to manage teams, customer expectations, and new contracts.



Grit, or the ability to persevere through hardship, is something that is lacking in today’s workforce, but it’s essential for companies looking to achieve good results. The more grit people have in an organisation, the better the staff retention rate. Dublin recruitment agencies are always on the lookout for people with grit because they are often able to help companies achieve their objectives when others might fall by the wayside. Implementing a project and carrying it through to completion necessarily involves a degree of pressure, so if you want to make yourself valuable to employers, grit is something that you need to have in your emotional toolbox.



At PRL Recruitment we understand that companies want people with confidence. Contrary to popular opinion, companies don’t just react to a confident person at interview and then hire them based on that. Rather, they want confident people because they know that people with confidence tend to inspire the loyalty of staff members and the trust of customers. When a person is confident, they come across as being in control of a situation and able to meet the needs of the people they serve.

It’s essential, however, not to come across as arrogant. Confident people do not need to compensate for their personal feelings of inadequacy with displays of grandiosity.


Cultural Fit

We’re long past the days where recruiters are just looking for a generic person in a suit to fill a vacant desk in the office. Modern companies want recruits who fit into the corporate culture – whatever that happens to be.

Why is cultural fit so important? The reason is that people who do not fit can often end up bringing other people down with them, resulting in significant costs for the company as a whole. One employee with a negative attitude, for instance, can kill morale in the rest of their team.

If you’re looking for a new employer, then it’s a good idea to consider whether you fit into the culture (and whether you want to). Avoid companies that clash with your values and outlook.


Established in 1973, PRL Recruitment has long been Ireland’s go to Recruitment Agency for Sales, Marketing and Executive roles. With a combined experience of over 150 years of recruitment throughout the team and offices in Dublin and Belfast, PRL Recruitment is widely recognised as the premium Sales Recruitment Agency servicing the island of Ireland.

For more information on current roles or if you are an employer looking for new talent please don’t hesitate in calling our Dublin office on 01668 5144