Trying to find a job is something we all encounter at some point. Perhaps you’re looking for that first real job to start your career, or you’re searching for a new job in order to get a big raise you deserve. Either way, you need to know what employers want in a job applicant so you make yourself as attractive as possible and get that prized job offer.
Everybody seems to be looking for another job these days. According to a recent survey from CareerBuilder, more than 3 in 4 full-time employed workers are either actively looking or open to new job opportunities. Millennials are often the poster child for today’s job-hopping phenomenon. Deloitte finds 64% of American millennials, the largest segment of the workforce, expect to leave their current employer within the next five years. Across the globe, only 16% of millennials see themselves with their current employers a decade from now.
What does this all mean for your job hunt? Competition. The more people looking for jobs, the more important it is for you to stand out. There are nearly 6 million job openings in the United States, but you can expect competition at every decent-paying job. With the help of Glassdoor and CareerBuilder, let’s take a look at five things every employer wants in a job candidate.
Good character is a quality valued by every employer. When a job interviewer asks you to explain a time when you failed, it’s not because he wants to know what you did wrong in the past so he feels better about himself. Instead, he wants to know how you handle defeat. The interviewer is trying to judge your ability to recognize your mistakes and see what you do to correct them. Do you give up at the first sign of trouble, or do you pull a Lebron James and fight your way back for a win? Be ready to explain how you came up with a solution to a previous obstacle.
“Integrity is a necessary quality for long-term success both inside and outside of the workplace,” explains Heather Huhman from Glassdoor. “Where work is concerned, it means being able to take accountability for the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Mistakes happen, and the sooner you own up to them, the sooner you can learn from them. Show you have what it takes: Don’t be afraid to discuss a past defeat during the job interview. In fact, look for opportunities to discuss it with potential employers. After all, employers aren’t looking for perfection, they’re looking for someone they can trust to get the job done and who wants grow with the company.”
Leadership skills are arguably the most important quality in the workplace. Employers and employees both need to focus on leadership. A recent job outlook survey from National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) finds 80.1% of employers look for evidence of leadership skills on resumes, the highest sought-after attribute in the survey. Furthermore, 78.9% of employers say they seek job applicants that can work well on a team. In other words, make sure to highlight leadership roles and titles on your resume and during the job interview. Don’t be afraid to add details such as how many people you managed or what specific steps you took to produce team-orientated results.
Leadership is a two-way street. Workers willing to leave their current job may be doing so because their employer lacks leadership development. In fact, millennials say leadership focus is the most valued area of focus. Seventy-one percent of millennials likely to leave in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed, according to Deloitte. The least loyal employees are also significantly more likely to say they are being overlooked for potential leadership positions.
It makes for a long day at the office when you don’t like your co-workers. Hiring managers not only need to make sure you have the skills required for the job, but also the personality to play nice with others and not drag down office morale. After all, toxic workers cost the company extra time, money, and energy.
Even in today’s digital world, social skills are becoming more important as job growth is increasingly found in occupations that can’t be outsourced to robots or computer programs. A recent paper claims that nearly all job growth since 1980 has come from occupations that are relatively social skill-intensive. Social skills was defined as the ability to work well with others.
Some people are born social butterflies that flourish in the work environment, while others have to try harder to avoid becoming a corporate wallflower. If you think you have a likability problem, start by projecting a positive attitude, as no one likes a Debbie downer. Remember to smile often during job interviews, and speak well of your previous co-workers and bosses. People also love to talk about themselves, so ask hiring managers open-ended questions that allow them to voice their experiences and opinions. For example, ask them what they like most about working at the company.
The corporate world is constantly changing. Employers need workers that will change with it, and even go beyond the posted job description. We all know you should never tell your boss “That’s not in my job description,” but you also need to convey to hiring managers that you’re not the type of worker to say something like that in the first place. Almost 61% of hiring managers look for flexibility/adaptability attributes on a resume, according to the NACE.
Once again, you can show flexibility by having specific examples ready to tell during your job interview. You should be able to explain your past job responsibilities and how you went above and beyond those to help your previous employer succeed. Having specific examples like this is important because there simply isn’t enough room to explain unique situations on a resume. Employers are also looking for more than a good-on-paper job candidate. CareerBuilder reports that over half of employers say resumes don’t give enough information for them to accurately make an initial decision whether someone is a good fit for the job.
Few people are MVP material straight out of the gate. Even Tom Brady started from the bottom as New England’s No. 199 draft pick and fourth-string quarterback. However, if you’re not coachable, it’s hard for an employer to fully develop your skills and talents. Just ask the Cleveland Browns about Johnny Manziel.
How do you become coachable? You must be open to feedback. As much as it hurts to receive negative feedback on your performance in the office, being close-minded will only make it worse, especially over the long run. Try to understand where your boss is coming from and create a plan of action with measurable steps you can take to improve. In a job interview, discuss past instances where you used feedback to make changes for the better. On a resume, you can list additional classes or programs you took advantage of at your previous employer to grow your skill set.
Follow Eric on Twitter @Mr_Eric_WSCS