What Employers Really Want
Psst: You probably have these qualities in spades.
Looking for a new job can seem daunting, especially if you’re not sure what employers really want. No matter the position or industry, there are some universal traits that all employers look for. We’re sharing seven core attributes right here to help you stay ahead of the competitive candidate pool!
Intelligence (Mental and Emotional)
Mental intelligence reflects your ability to plan, organize, set priorities, and solve problems to get the job done. It also refers to your level of common sense and ability to deal with day-to-day obstacles. Challenges will always present themselves, and employers want to see that you can troubleshoot and independently solve them.
How can you demonstrate this? The key is to ask intelligent questions, showing a deep level of curiosity. Employers aren’t looking for someone who thinks they have all the answers without asking probing questions that lead to deeper understanding. Consider whether you’re asking questions that seek to understand or whether you’re simply waiting to talk.
Emotional intelligence involves knowing how to read the cues and signals those around you are sharing. What’s the body language of the person you’re engaging? What are they not saying directly? Knowing when to push forward with your ideas, when to yield the floor, when someone’s upset, or when someone needs help will go a long way in helping people associate you with empathy and collaboration rather than less desirable qualities.
Being a leader can take many forms. For example, it means being willing and eager to accept responsibility for results, to take charge of achieving company objectives and goals, or to volunteer for projects outside the scope of your job.
The mark of a good leader is accountability, holding yourself responsible for the results of the projects you take on. That also entails not making excuses but rather identifying, working toward, and achieving solutions.
As one of the most important qualities anyone can possess, integrity is a key indicator for long-term success. It begins by being true to yourself, which means being honest with yourself. Cultivate an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. Be authentic in your relationships with others, including being accountable for your mistakes and willing to learn from them.
Here’s a biggie: Avoid saying anything negative about your previous employer or coworkers. Even if you’ve been fired or have had a negative experience, keep it respectful and simple. All you need to say in an interview is “It wasn’t the right match for me, and it was time to move on.”
With collaboration such an important part of any team-based environment, employers are looking for warm, friendly, engaged, and flexible people. How can you show some of these qualities? In an interview, recount a time when you adapted to shifting priorities in a positive way. You’ll gain the edge if you also provide examples of a time when you influenced a group of peers to accept a change with a positive attitude.
Courage involves the willingness to take risks, to move forward despite your fears, and even to fail, which provides the opportunity to further learn and grow. It also means speaking up to say exactly what you think and feel even in difficult circumstances. The business dial is never moved by “yes” men. Instead, employers seek professionals who are willing to say what needs to be said — not what they think someone wants to hear.
One caveat: It also takes courage to set aside your ego and agenda to know your audience before giving feedback. Will the receiving party hear what you’re saying without getting defensive? It’s important to meet people where they are and communicate with them knowing how they will likely receive the information. During an interview, you can demonstrate courage by asking thoughtful, direct, and frank questions about the company and its direction.
Competence is crucial to your success, serving as the foundation of credibility in your career. It’s the ability to get a job done on a high level and with accuracy, which involves setting priorities, separating the relevant from the irrelevant, and focusing to accomplish the task in the timeline given.
Resilience is the ability to persevere in the face of adversity or shifting priorities. The ability to roll with change or the proverbial punches with a positive “can do” attitude. Business doesn’t always unfold as predicted, thus your ability to see the big picture and realign will be key.
How can your sense of resilience shine through? By being calm, cool, collected, and engaged in the interview process. If you’re comfortable in your own skin during an interview, that will indicate what you’re like under pressure in everyday situations.
Remember, your character is a big part of determining whether you’re the candidate to hire. Your demonstrated ability to stay positive, be collaborative, and reflect competence will set you apart from the pack. Own who you are, build on your strengths, show how you can benefit an organization, and go get that job!
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