What Employers Look For

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Center for Career & Professional Development
L72.00 New Building
524 West 59th Street
New York, NY 10019

Phone: (212) 237-8754
Fax: (212) 237-8440
E: careers@jjay.cuny.edu  

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Mon. 9:00AM - 5:00PM
Tues. 9:00AM - 7:00PM
Wed. 9:00AM - 7:00PM
Thurs. 9:00AM -5:00PM
Fri.     9:00 AM -5:00PM

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Monday through Friday: 1:00PM - 5:00PM 


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A national survey of employer recruiters of recent college graduates found that most employers are looking for the same skill set, no matter the industry or organization.  Read the skills below and think about your level of competency or experience.  We have also provided some resources that might assist John Jay students in further honing these need areas.

  • Communication (Oral and Written):  If this list of skills were a pie chart, communication would take up over half of the graph.  Good written and spoken communication skills are the most important factor that many employers will use to screen potential candidates for a job.  Can you speak in front of a group, share an idea with your boss, draft important memoranda?  John Jay has several resource centers like the Writing Center, Center for English Language Support, Communication Arts Lab, and more.    You can practice these skills in the classroom, by participating in student organizations, or  participating in activities like the Debate Team. 
  • Leadership / Teamwork:  The ability to work with a group of people to complete a task is crucial to any workplace in the new economy.  Employers will look for evidence of this skill on your resume using clues like student organization leadership, volunteerism, previous work experience in managing staff or clients.  The Office of Student Life is a great place to start if you are looking for leadership opportunities!
  • Critical Thinking:  This is the process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication as a guide to belief and action.  Can you look at a problem and think of a way to solve it?  Critical thinking is a skill you will learn in many areas of your time at John Jay including in class, in clubs, or in interactions with your peers.  Employers will look for evidence of this through stories of your accomplishments in the workplace, internship, volunteer site, or at school.  Tell them a story about a time you made suggestions to solve an issue or better a process and you’ll shine!
  • Initiative: Taking initiative means being forward thinking and understanding where your skills and experiences might help the organization succeed.  Being slightly ahead of the curve will assist you in finding success in the workplace.  This is another skill where the employer will look for examples of your initiative on your resume and in the interview.  Be ready to tell a story and highlight your accomplishments!
  • Work Ethic: Having a good work ethic means many things.  It encompasses your daily work habits like punctuality and communication, a positive attitude, and meeting or exceeding expectations of others.  How will an employer recruiter assess this?  On your resume, they will look for examples of how your work has furthered the goals of the organization you worked for.  In an interview, they will notice things like your dress and punctuality and ask you about examples of your accomplishments.  Your references will also be strong indicators of the work ethic you bring to a new employer.  The best way to build this experience and get those references is through practice, field-based work while in college through part-time jobs, volunteer opportunities, or internships (either academic or not).