The Qualities Employers Look For are Not Obvious
For the most part, it is a buyer’s market for employers at the moment. With most openings attracting applications running into three figures, they can afford to be very choosy about whom they invite for an interview. But those numbers bring with it their own problems for the employer. Namely, sorting through a mountain of applications to find just the right person.
So, what are employers looking for? Obviously, you need to be ‘fit for purpose’, i.e. have the requisite qualifications and experience. But so does every single one of the hundreds of other applications, so it is not a case of who has more qualifications or decades of experience.
Employers want workers who can see the big picture, solve problems, are good communicators, and team players. These are known as ‘soft skills’. The truth is, ‘hard skills’ – the technical abilities that you bring to the role – can be taught. True, one person can practice those skills with more talent and flair than someone else, but at the end of the day, those skills are universal, finite and present the employer with an even playing field of candidature. Soft skills, however, are a valued commodity.
Five Skills That Say – “I’m the Perfect Candidate”
Seventy-eight per cent of the HR professionals surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that customer focus is crucial for entry-level and experienced job candidates. This involves understanding and anticipating a customer or client’s needs. Whether your job involves direct stakeholder engagement or not, ultimately the company you hope to work for will have clients, and whatever function you fulfil, your focus is not just on that task, but on best client outcomes.
Dependability | Reliability
Nearly every HR professional in the survey (a whopping 97%) said that dependability and reliability are very or extremely important qualities for applicants being considered for entry-level positions.
This translates to commitment – be it for a full-time position, contract or casual. Commitment means dedicated to the role, the company’s vision and its business outcomes. Citing a real-life example is more compelling than simply saying that you are always on time.
Even if the job you are applying for is your first, you can still demonstrate commitment in our resume vis-à-vis your studies, volunteer work, etc.
For entry-level candidates, teamwork is a major priority for employers when assessing resumes. Your ability to work effectively with others must be stated clearly. To this end, avoid talking about ‘I’ when demonstrating experience working as part of a team, talk about the collaborative process you have been part of and what the outcome of that process was.
For instance, if you have been part of the organisation of a community event, you could say, “Being able to help organise the event that raised over $5,000 in donations as a team was a highly rewarding experience for me.”
Another way to show that you are a good collaborator? Perhaps talk about an internship experience where you collaborated with peers to successfully complete a project.
Eighty-seven per cent of employers in the SHMR survey ranked integrity as one of the most important qualities when vetting job candidates. The study defined integrity as treating others with honesty, fairness and respect, as well as demonstrating respect for a company’s time and property.
HR professionals say it is an extremely important quality for job seekers to have. Respect in this context means having the ability to work effectively with colleagues who have diverse backgrounds or opinions.
Being able to demonstrate your ability to appreciate and work with diversity in the workplace in an increasingly more desirable trait and if you have an example you can cite, then you are strongly advised to include this in your resume. If you are required to complete selection criteria, you will almost certainly be asked to specify an example of this.
Ultimately you should not over-analyse things, but you do need to think outside the box. You have to look beyond the obvious and put your mind inside that of the HR manager. They are looking for a point of difference, something that marks you as someone who will be an asset to the company, not simply a role to be filled. Once you begin to change your perspective, your resume will accurately reflect the needs of the company you are targeting.