As employers begin the recruiting process they often have a pretty good idea of what kinds of skills they are looking for in potential employees. As an applicant you'll want to try to match these ideals to land a specific job.

To do this it is a good idea to sit down and think about the qualities and skills you have that you could use to describe yourself to best match the ideals associated with the position. By including these skills it will help your résumé and cover letter be more appealing to a prospective employer. The descriptive words you choose may potentially even give you an edge over other applicants.

Today's workplaces are fast-paced and constantly evolving, and it is important to recognize this fact as you submit your application. Positions today not only require hard skills, but soft skills which cannot be measured by experience or education, but rather through personal attributes.

Here are a few of the top skills employers look for in employees:

1. Interpersonal Skills

A candidate’s interpersonal skills are very important to employers. Since many jobs entail levels of customer service either internally or externally, and perhaps even global interactions, a person's ability to positively communicate and interact with others is highly desired. People who can demonstrate they possess strong interpersonal skills are more likely to shine through the hiring process.

Global network
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The global economy has had a significant impact on jobs and possessing a good ability to interact with others is a valuable skill to possess.

According to Ziprecruiter, a company that connects employers and job seekers, one of the top skills sought is the ability to communicate. The company analyzed 250,000 job ads across numerous industries to find the top skills managers are seeking in people to hire and 51 percent of specifically mentioned communication skills in their ads. [1]

2. Strong Work Ethic

Employers tend to be attracted to potential employees who can display a solid work ethic. The reason for this is because in the aftermath of Enron, Tyco and other major scandals, business ethics is a prominent topic.

Hiring managers want to hire people who make their companies look good. If they hire people who are lacking in ethics and/or do not have good decision-making skills, this can lead into problematic issues down the road which any employer is going to want to avoid. Integrity counts in today's world.

Wrong way or right way?
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Ethics are subjective. However, there are some clear wrongs and rights.

3. Flexibility and Initiative

Employees who are willing to bend a little are very appealing to hiring managers. Since so many companies operate on the global level this means it is possible for business to run 24/7.

When employees are willing to work odd hours or be accessible via mobile or email after hours on occasion, this extends the workday where productivity can occur to accommodate the different time zones to keep the business going. This, of course, increases potential for profitability.

Staff members who can successfully follow through on a task are very desirable and to do this levels of flexibility are necessary. Self-starters who do not need micro-management give their bosses the freedom to tend to other tasks and prefer to have employees who can maintain levels of autonomy.

Also, the ability to adapt is very important. Not all plans will play out as expected, when that happens, employers want to see innovation and flexibility.

"Some jobs involve change on a daily basis; therefore, employers want people who are adaptable, flexible, and patient, and respond well to change," reports AARP Foundation. [3]

Gone are the days of static thinking and "it's how things are done." While some organizations may still employ this philosophy due to managerial styles, the more innovative companies want to see people able to embrace change.

Flexibility in planning
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If plan A doesn't work, do you have the tenacity to move to plan B or even C, if necessary? Employers want their people to be flexible and able to adapt when the need arises.

4. Competency Using Computers and Other Tech

There are few jobs today that can get by without using some kind of automation, making computer literacy a very important skill to possess. For most positions, at the very least, a basic knowledge of computing is a skill employers look for in the people they are hiring. They are more likely going to shy away from applicants who do not have basic web browsing skills, ability to locate computer files or be able to communicate via email. Many employers these days are also specifically looking for the ability to comfortably use Microsoft Office, considering this to be a valuable skill for the ideal candidate to possess.

5. Strong Time Management Abilities

The ability to prioritize and manage time is another valuable attribute employers seek. Job candidates who can show how they can successfully balance demands thrown at them and do it successfully are likely to have an upper hand on the competition in the applicant pool. Being able to not only distinguish priorities, but manage them effectively is a very valuable skill to have. According to the Ziprecruiter analysis mentioned earlier, time management was the second most sought skill; 21 percent of hiring ads mentioned it as an attribute their ideal candidate would possess.

Work experience and education are important when applying for a job and should be presented in the best light possible; however, also of importance are the other kinds of skills that are more naturally inclined and/or attained through life; the skills not so easily taught through training. Referred to as "soft skills", these are also the kinds of attributes employers often look for in recruiting applicants or in those who seek employment in their organizations.

[ Related Reading: What 'Soft Skills' Do Employers Look for in New Employees? ]