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  • The Attributes Employers Seek on a Candidate’s Resume

    December 07, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Candidate Selection
    A woman interviews a man as they review his resume.

    TAGS: candidate selection, nace insights

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    Students who want to impress employers via their resumes will emphasize their solid GPA, detail their abilities to work as part of a team and solve problems, and offer proof of their strong communication skills, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2017 report.

    For the third consecutive year, the percentage of employers reporting plans to screen graduates by GPA has grown. This year, 70 percent of respondents will screen Class of 2017 candidates by GPA, up from 69 percent last year. (See Figure 1.)

    Among the employers that will screen candidates by GPA, more than 60 percent will use a cutoff of 3.0, which is also the mean and median reported cutoffs for the entire group.

    Also of great importance to employers: A student’s ability to work as part of a team is the top attribute for 78 percent of respondents. (See Figure 2.)

    While problem-solving skills may be difficult to exhibit on a resume, they will be required by more than 77 percent of respondents. Rounding out the top attributes employers are seeking on a candidate’s resume are communication skills—both written (75 percent) and verbal (71 percent)—and a strong work ethic (72 percent).

    Data for the Job Outlook 2017 survey were collected from August 5, 2016, through October 4, 2016. A total of 169 surveys were returned—a 17 percent response rate. The Job Outlook 2017 report is available at or through the MyNACE area at

    Figure 1: Screen candidates by GPA, by percentage of respondents

    Recruiting Year Percentage of Respondents
    2017 70.1%
    2016 69.3%
    2015 68.1%
    2014 67.1%
    2013 78.3%
    2012 73.4%
    2011 76.9%
    Source: Job Outlook 2017, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: Attributes employers seek on a candidate’s resume

    Attribute Percentage of Respondents
    Ability to work in a team 78.0%
    Problem-solving skills 77.3%
    Communication skills (written) 75.0%
    Strong work ethic 72.0%
    Communication skills (verbal) 70.5%
    Leadership 68.9%
    Initiative 65.9%
    Analytical/quantitative skills 64.4%
    Flexibility/adaptability 63.6%
    Detail-oriented 62.1%
    Interpersonal skills (relates well to others) 58.3%
    Technical skills 56.8%
    Computer skills 49.2%
    Organizational ability 47.7%
    Strategic planning skills 37.9%
    Friendly/outgoing personality 25.8%
    Tactfulness 25.8%
    Creativity 21.2%
    Entrepreneurial skills/risk-taker 19.7%
    Fluency in a foreign language 4.5%
    Source: Job Outlook 2017, National Association of Colleges and Employers