By Max Clarke

Employers rate strong interpersonal skills, confidence and enthusiasmin a potential employee far more highly than more tangible skills like business acumen or a strong academic degree, according to a new survey.

The survey - by global accounting network RSM International in conjunction with the European Business Awards - was completed by over 500 European business leaders from 32 European countries.

When hiring entry level graduates, 81 per cent of those surveyed said the most important characteristics were confidence, enthusiasm and an entrepreneurial spirit. In comparison, only 20 per cent of respondents cited a good academic degree and business acumen amongst their most important.

Sixty per cent of the survey respondents, who ranged from CEOs of large multinational companies to SMEs, rated creativity and the ability to diversify as key traits in an entrepreneur whilst willingness to take risks scored less highly.

Jean Stephens, CEO of global accounting network RSM International, says, “Academic qualifications are obviously important but people skills and entrepreneurialism are assets increasingly sought by employers throughout Europe. In tough economic times these skills help employees and businesses stand out in crowded and competitive marketplaces. For the fifth consecutive year, we are celebrating entrepreneurship through our sponsorship of the European Business Award’s (EBA) RSM International Entrepreneur of the Year award.”

RSM International is a continued sponsor of the European Business Awards, an independent awards programme designed to recognise and promote excellence. The winners will be announced in November.