Recruitment insights: The importance of personal skills

This story was first published on Tuesday 11 August 2020. If you wish to use this content, please contact to confirm that the information is still current.

Three out of four recruiting employers place at least as much emphasis, if not more, on personal skills than technical skills, according to recent research by the National Skills Commission (NSC).

Personal skills, often called personal qualities or employability skills, refer to skills transferable across jobs, such as communication skills, teamwork skills, reliability and motivation.

The NSC’s research highlights the importance of understanding, developing and demonstrating personal skills for job seekers and students preparing to join the labour market.

NSC labour market analyst Ivan Neville says it is more important than ever for job seekers to understand what employers are looking for to stand out in a competitive labour market, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Employers recruiting for certain occupations place more importance on personal skills than others,” he said. “For instance, nearly nine out of ten employers hiring community and personal care workers reported that they place at least as much emphasis on personal skills as they do on technical skills.”

Graph: Employers emphasising personal skills when recruiting

Source: National Skills Commission, Survey of Employers’ Recruitment Experiences, 2019. Note the survey was temporarily replaced in 2020 to measure COVID-19 impacts on businesses.

The NSC spoke to around 14,000 employers across Australia in 2019 Survey of Employers’ Recruitment Experiences. The survey collects information about how employers recruit and what they are looking for in applicants, identifying practical ways job seekers can better connect with employment opportunities.

The NSC is using this data to help job seekers be better informed about the jobs they are applying for and what skills are required in those jobs. One of the tools informed by NSC data, Job Outlook, provides information about the skill-sets required for different jobs which can be used to help tailor job applications and highlight relevant skills to potential employers.

The 2019 Survey of Employers’ Recruitment Experiences data report and the importance of personal skills when looking for a job factsheet are available on the Labour Market Information Portal.

The Labour Market Information Portal is updated regularly as new data becomes available. To stay up to date, please subscribe by emailing