What the Heck Are Employers Looking For In a Potential Employee?


Unemployment15One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation. –Arthur Ashe

Whether you’re a fresh-faced neophyte, fresh out of college, or a grizzled veteran of the Business World, like myself, there is a universal question, which we all ask ourselves, while we are in the midst of a job search:

What the heck are employers looking for in a potential employee?

In a 2009 survey, commissioned by Careerbuilder.com and Robert Half International, American Employers said that aside from having the basic job qualifications, multitasking (36 percent), initiative (31 percent) and creative thinking (21 percent) are the most important characteristics in a job applicant. In that survey, they also asked six “workplace experts” to list 10 of the most common reasons employers hire employees, in no particular order.

The list topics are their’s. The analysis (including any smart-alack remarks that may pop up) is mine.

1. Long-term potential

Businesses are always looking to the future. They want to know if you will be able to grow professionally as an employee of their company? Will you be an asset, whose worth to the company increases with every passing year?

Or, will you take advantage of their free training and on-the-job experience and head off to greener pastures within a couple of years?

It’s a cliché that you have probably heard before, I know, but, hiring a new employee is an investment.

2. Ability to work well with others

One of the definitions of the word “corporation” is “any group of persons united or regarded as united in one body”. While your potential employer wants you to be a success and an asset to their business, if you are….ummm…a jerk or a drama queen…you will be more trouble than you are worth, and will be “shown the door”, with or without the “appropriate disciplinary procedures”, depending on how mad the powers-that-be are with you.

3. Ability to make money

Well…Duuuh. Do you think that they are going to hire you for your good looks? Unless you’re Christie Brinkley, that is. (Google her, kids.)

4. Impressive résumé

Whether you have the experts at a website like careerbuilder.com build a resume for you, or you ask a talented friend to help you,the fact remains that your resume unlocks the door to your professional future. It can be your “good first impression”.

5. Relevant work experience

If you want to travel in a new direction in your career, you have to show the potential employer that you have performed similar activities to the requirements they list in their job description. Somehow, you have to show them that your professional background makes you a viable candidate for their open position.

6. Creative problem-solving skills

As I used to tell the younger folks whom I managed, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” Of course, their usual response was to look a me like a deer in headlights, But, I digress…

Basically, your potential employer is looking for the ability to “think out of the box”.

7. Strong online presence

Yes, boys and girls, they will be looking at your Facebook Pages, your Twitter Account, and your Personal Blogs. It is a great way for employers to find out who you actually are, and if the private individual matches the person they are interviewing.

8. Multitaskers who thrive on variety of projects

Just how mentally agile are you? Employers want to hire someone who can prioritize, organize, and produce. Employers do not want to hire someone whose work style is reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel at the Chocolate Factory.

9. Enthusiasm and initiative

“On it, Boss!” are the words than an employer wants to hear, when they give their employee a task to be accomplished. However, they not only want you to be able to follow orders, they want you to be able to anticipate them. Your potential employer wants you not only to be able to contribute to the bottom line, but also to be able to lead by example.

10. Good cultural fit

Employers want to hire someone who can hit the ground running, fitting into their Corporate Culture as seamlessly as possible.For example, an employer would not hire Stone Cold Steve Austin to be the host of a Tea Room: “Are you two going to have a seat, or am I gonna have to lay the smackdown on ya?”

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States. Known as “Silent Cal”, he was a quite, introspective man, who spoke very little. However, when he did speak, he spoke volumes:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.

Therefore, in conclusion, as I am experiencing in my own job search, your success in finding meaningful employment will depend on how much effort you are willing to put in.

The preceding list is a very helpful tool. But the list, in and of itself,  will not land you a job.

Do your due diligence. Be prepared.

Do your “homework” concerning the company  that you are interviewing with.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Press on.



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