If you just graduated from college, chances are you’ve worked in a customer service job to support your academic ambitions. You may be surprised to know, despite your ultimate career goals, that you were honing the skills employers care about the most.
We looked at thousands of entry-level ZipRecruiter job postings that require a college degree to find the top skills employers want from candidates just out of college. We found that soft skills—people skills that are more difficult to identify than the hard skills you learned in class—are the most highly-valued.
Customer service and sales are the top two skills for recent college grads right now. Employers also want you to have great communication skills and an entrepreneurial spirit.
The Most In-Demand Skills for Entry-Level Jobs Requiring a College Degree
- Customer Service
- Sales and Marketing
- Consulting Experience
- Communication Skills
- Account Management
- Customer Relationship Management
- Public Relations
- Inside Sales
Some of these skills are more specialized than others, but they are all essential to success in your career. Account management is a skill most desired in professionals working in sales and advertising. But even an entry-level programmer needs this skillset. A programmer’s product manager is the client, and their employer is the account.
The same can be said about hospitality, consulting, and even inside sales. These skills are all related to a pervasive culture of service in today’s workplace.
America became a predominately service-based economy just after the new millennium, when retail trade replaced manufacturing as the largest employer in the U.S. (Healthcare recently claimed the top spot, but it is also a service-based industry.) That means the majority of available jobs, regardless of discipline, have a direct connection to service, sales, and communications.
If you have a college degree, you’ve already trained in these top skills. The experience of completing a bachelor’s degree and studying multiple disciplines (the definition of an education in the liberal arts), means you’ve been honing the craft of communicating your ideas, listening to others, and persuading your audience to agree with your argument. This is sales and customer service 101.
But simply having these skills isn’t enough. When applying for your first job in your desired career, you need to demonstrate these skills in order to get an interview. The best way to do that is through a well-crafted resume and compelling cover letter. Keep the modern recruiting process in mind as well. Algorithms may be crawling right past your resume because it doesn’t explicitly state that you have experience in sales and communications.
If you’re still not sure you can demonstrate these top skills in your next job interview, there are ways to improve. Want to boost your communication skills? Toastmasters is an international organization you can join that will help you shake that fear of public speaking. If you want to gain consulting or public relations experience, volunteer at a non-profit. Offer the skills you do have for free to gain the skills you need to jumpstart your career.