In an increasingly competitive job market, college students and recent grads everywhere are looking for any edge that helps them stand out from their competition. Unfortunately, too many graduates are discovering that they didn’t acquire these skills until they try to enter the job market.

So, what skills are we talking about?

Here’s a list of the ten most in-demand skills that hiring managers find attractive.

Leadership

The most important skill that you can leave school with is the ability to be a leader in a wide range of scenarios. Start looking for opportunities to take the lead role on projects.

Leadership could mean anything from a non-profit event to a classroom project to picking up more responsibility at your current job. No matter what the situation, find a way to be the one in charge.

Ability to Work in a Team

In addition to understanding how to lead, you must also be able to follow directions and work with others. As you won’t always be the one in charge at your new job, you’ll need to understand team dynamics and how to follow the leader of the group.

With all of the group projects required in college and the difficulties that come along with working in those teams, there should be plenty of opportunities to learn team dynamics.

Written Communication

Unfortunately, the focus on mastering written skills has diminished with the rise of technology and different forms of communication.

However, employers still care about this ability. You’ll need to be able to write emails, instructions, reports, memos, and a range of other documents in all industries.

Many managers feel recent grads are lacking in this area, so set yourself apart with your writing ability.

Verbal Communication

One of the most common sources of conflict in the workplace is a lack of communication. By being to express yourself clearly and articulately, you will set yourself apart in the interview process.

Problem Solving Skills

The reality for many graduates is that they are going to end up in a field that isn’t necessarily directly related to their major. Thankfully, your major isn’t the only thing that employers are looking at when interviewing you.

They also want to see your ability to tackle complex problems in a variety of situations.

Strong Work Ethic

Even if you aren’t the most qualified candidate for the job, you can easily set yourself apart by proving yourself to be a hard worker.

Managers want people that they can rely on to get the job done. While another candidate may be more qualified on their resume, they may not show the drive that a company is looking for.

Initiative

What kind of worker are you at your current job? Are you content with sitting around when business is slow, or are you always looking for opportunities to improve the company you work for? Those who fall into the latter category are much more appealing to potential employers.

Analytical and Quantitative Skills

It does not matter what your major is; you need to take a few math courses.

You’ll thank me later.

Every industry needs people who can crunch numbers and make sense of large amounts of data. If you can bring quantitative skills in addition to your other skills, you will be a highly desirable candidate.

Flexibility

Just as you may end up in a career unrelated to your major, you may find that you are expected to perform jobs that don’t necessarily fit into your description.

Are you ready for that?

Managers want employees who can adapt to different situations and learn new skills on the fly.

Technical Skills

Let’s face it. We now live in a technological society. Every single career uses technology in some capacity, and companies expect you to know how to use it.

If you can learn programming languages, different types of software (think Photoshop, InDesign, etc.), data mining, databases, or anything else along these lines, you have the potential to make yourself a highly desirable candidate that can earn a larger than average salary.

Your Future

The success that you experience in your career largely depends on your ability to learn these ten skills.

If you make them a priority while still in college, you are going to be far and away more qualified than many other college graduates who are entering the job market.

As many college programs don’t necessarily teach these skills directly, it is up to you to take the initiative to learn them on your own.

What do you think? Graduates are you currently using these skills in your career?