What are employers looking for?

The world of work

There’s a job out there for you, no matter what your skills.

Filmmaker, matchmaker, flower-arranger, piano-tuner, hedge-pruner, company director, bike mechanic.

Career possibilities are endless.

Every journey starts where you are.

So where are you on your career path?

You need to think about the skills, qualities, achievements and attitudes you need for the world of work.


There are certain skills which every business will look for, regardless of the role.

Here are the most common ones:

  • Literacy: most jobs need you to be able to read and write.
  • Numeracy: most jobs require you to do at least some maths.
  • ICT ability: most employers look for people who can use a computer.


There are certain qualities that employers need in their staff to ensure the smooth running of their business.

  • Commitment: finishing what you start.
  • Loyalty: keeping your employer's interests at heart.
  • Flexibility: adapting to different tasks or surroundings.
  • Reliability: showing up on time each day, attending meetings on time and refraining from theft.
  • Trustworthiness: building up trust so that an employer can rely on you to get things done.
  • Honesty: telling the truth, not stealing or misleading people.
  • Teamwork: getting along with others.

The last one is important.

Every business has clients or customers.

Every employer is looking for professional people who can get along with each other and customers.


Think about how you perform at school.

Not every job requires perfect grades, but all employers will look at your academic achievements.


Because they say a lot about your basic qualities.

Success in school means that you have already demonstrated commitment, loyalty, flexibility, honesty, and teamwork.

Your achievements are also a guide to your future careers.

Consider the subjects you’re best at, and the topics you enjoy.

Which careers will allow you to continue to explore these areas?

Don’t forget your extra-curricular activities either.

Your personal qualities

Your attitudes are all about your emotions and how you deal with them.

This is difficult to assess for ourselves as our emotions can be hard to describe.

A good way to do this is to ask how your friends might describe you to someone else.

They might say that you’re confident, considerate, calm under pressure, organised, or good with people.

They could say negative things too.

Do you lose your temper easily?

Are you shy around new people?

This exercise will help you imagine how other people see you, which is important when you’re going for an interview.

What types of job are available in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland is experiencing a shortage of workers with certain skills.

These include electrical, mechanical and civil engineers, medical workers such as doctors, nurses and biochemists, and trades such as construction workers and chefs.

What is STEM?

The term STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The modern, connected world is dependent on technology.

The number of businesses that rely on STEM skills will only grow.

Northern Ireland businesses are struggling to recruit enough STEM staff.

There are 2.8 million high-level STEM jobs in the UK.

Forty-three percent of vacancies for STEM professionals are difficult to fill due to skills shortages as not enough people are studying these subjects.

STEM careers in Northern Ireland

The following areas are important to the Northern Ireland economy. All require STEM skills.


software development, database development, systems architecture

Creative and digital media

games, digital entertainment and mobile technologies

Agri-food sector

food science and biotechnology

Business and financial services

technical skills for banking, insurance and investment

Advanced manufacturing and engineering

computer-assisted drawing (CAD) skilled employment, mechanical and electrical engineering

Renewable energies and recycling

biochemists, physicists and engineers