What do Employers look for in an Employee

In Sri Lanka we have a habit of collecting certificates. It is quite common to see for an example engineering students studying professional study programmes in commerce. Sri Lankans believe that having many qualifications will lead to good employment prospects. Rationally thinking does it matter to an employer how many certificates the employee has collected. For an employer what matters most is finding an employee who can do a job of work. In Sri Lanka there is a culture of rote learning.
Children are pushed hard to study for memory based exams. This is a pattern that start shaping up from year five scholarship exams. Unfortunately in many cases most of what was studied is forgotten once the exam is over. There is very little encouragement for practical application of what was learnt.
Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is of little use. Knowledge needs to be coupled with skills that can be used to put that knowledge into useful practice. Internationally employers look for employees with skills that are essential tools in using the knowledge to generate capital. Strangely in most instances the emphasis on technical knowledge required to perform the job is of less importance than having these other skills.
Communication Skills is generally considered as the most important skill in an employee to have. It is important be able communicate with clients, peers, juniors and seniors. Good communicator is a good speaker, presenter, writer, negotiator as well as a listener. Sometimes there is a deeper meaning in what one says than what is said and it is important be a good listener. Leading organizations have realized that good communications will improve efficiency, morale and foster good working relationships in the business and pay much attention to improve communication within the organization and facilitate a public relations department within the organization.
Another skill that is often considered the most important is the ability work in a team environment. Working in a team instills unity among team members to perform common tasks with enthusiasm which will reduce waste and duplication and lead to a very efficient and harmonious work environment. Team work creates synergy, where the contribution of the team is greater than the sum of each individual.
Employees working in a team will share responsibility and lead to reducing the stress of individuals having to bear the responsibility single handed. Employees learn from each other and share knowledge. There is not much emphasis in the local curricular on improving skills such as analytical and critical thinking. These are also considered very important by employers. In the olden days before the advent of computers knowledge and having a great deal of information was very important. With the advent of computer, knowledge and information became freely available. The requirement is to analyze, apply and conceptualize information using knowledge to come up with practical and useful ideas.
The importance of having a good command of the language cannot be overemphasized. Students spend a great deal of time and effort to gather technical knowledge of the subject. Unfortunately very little time on learning the language. There is a belief that the language is only required to get through an exam but it is much more than that. Having a good command of the language is an essential ingredient in being a good communicator as well as being good team player. Knowing the language can help cover up for any deficiencies in the technical knowledge. On the other hand if there is weakness in language skills it will be difficult to express what is known.
There are other skills that employers look for and it is important to make an effort develop skills such as Computer Literacy, Time Management, Leadership and good Work Ethic. It is difficult to gather these skills by concentrating on academic studies only. Students have to make an effort to get out of the class room and get involved in school and community activities. Getting involved in these activities should be considered an investment in the future. Do a Google search on “SKILLS SOUGHT BY EMPLOYERS” and read relevant literature freely available to get a better insight in to what employers look for in an
employee. Having these skills is more important than collecting certificates.
Keerthi Jayasuriya
International Scholar Educational Services (Pvt) Ltd

Universities and Institutes