The world of work is very different to high school or uni. The quicker you understand these key differences, the quicker you will adapt and be successful in your job search and then in your place of work.

Understanding the top 5 skills an employer is looking for will really benefit you in securing and keeping a job. Employees who are successful and do a great job are going to get ahead faster. So if you want to be at the front of the competition read on!

The top 5 essential skills for youth – employers need you to be a:


  • You are willing to learn new skills and have a “can do” attitude.
  • You have a friendly approach, are polite and have a positive self image.
  • You show passion and interest for the industry or elements related to the job.
  • You are adaptable and can cope with change.


  • You actively listen to and understand the messages and ideas of others.
  • You have an understanding of work place speaking etiquette regarding other adults, employers and customers.
  • You accept and learn from constructive feedback (some call this criticism!).
  • You can communicate effectively in many ways – by talking, by listening, through writing, through numbers (numeracy), using on-line and digital technologies.


  • You can work well with others, including different ages, cultures and backgrounds.
  • You listen to and are respectful of others and their different points of view.
  • You participate and contribute to the team but can also work alone when required.
  • You can relate to others and display honesty and integrity in your actions.


  • You’re not afraid to seek help and ask questions.
  • You can identify and resolve problems by being creative and enterprising.
  • You can use a range of information sources to identify effective and/or innovative solutions and then you can translate these ideas into action.


  • You turn up on time and ready for work, appropriately dressed with the right attitude and equipment for each work day.
  • You are respectful of people and equipment and can manage time and other people’s property if required.
  • You are dependable, responsible and able to follow instructions – no surprises for your boss!
  • You are honest and committed to your job, your workplace and your employer.
  • You understand your own capabilities but you’re also keen to “give new things a go”.

For lots of great info for new workers about your rights, entitlements and more, check out Employment New Zealand’s InfoZone:My First Job.