Survey reveals "soft skills" most important

When it comes to the importance of candidate skills and qualities, employers are looking for team players who can solve problems, organize their work, and communicate effectively, according to results of a new survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

"Employers are seeking evidence of the soft skills needed to succeed in the workplace in the college students they're recruiting," says Marilyn Mackes, NACE's executive director.

Employers responding to NACE's Job Outlook 2014 survey rated various skills on a five-point scale: 1 = not at all important; 2 = not very important; 3 = somewhat important; 4 = very important; 5 = extremely important.

Here's how their responses broke down by weighted average rating:

Ability to work in a team structure: 4.55

Ability to make decisions and solve problems: 4.50

Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work: 4.48

Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization: 4.48

Ability to obtain and process information: 4.37

Ability to analyze quantitative data: 4.25

Technical knowledge related to the job: 4.01

Proficiency with computer software programs: 3.94

Ability to create and/or edit written reports: 3.62

Ability to sell or influence others: 3.54

Respondents by Sector

By sector, 43.8% of responding organizations were from manufacturing, 37% from service, 8.7% percent from retail and wholesale trade, 8.2% from transportation and utilities, and 2.4% from government.