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Top 10 Qualities Employers Look for in Job Candidates

by Ilene Tatroe, studioD

Your resume -- your work history, accomplishments and skill sets -- show that you can do the job. Your personality and how you present yourself in job interviews are what will win you the job over another candidate. Even if you aren't the most qualified candidate in the interview set, knowing and exhibiting what employers consider key qualities for job candidates can give you a step up against the competition.

Be Professional

Everything you do during the job search -- resumes, cover letters, phone screenings, in-person interviews and follow-up communications -- should show your professional nature. Employers want to know their employees approach their jobs with the business in mind, and how you conduct yourself during the search gives them this insight. "A manager can read you the moment you walk in the door," Kathy Harris, managing director of executive search firm Harris Allied told Forbes in the article "Top Five Personality Traits Employers Hire Most."

Show Enthusiasm

You may be tired or dragging from a difficult day. The moment you walk in the building of a potential employer or pick up the phone for an interview call, you need to show enthusiasm for the job. Employers want job candidates who are excited about the job and the company; enthusiastic employees are likely to approach the job with a positive attitude and work hard. "Being upbeat is a must," says Terri Lee Ryan, a career coach who blogs for Chicago Now.

Maintain Confidence

Confidence is the quality employees are missing the most. Show your potential employees that you are confident in your skills and qualifications, as well as who you are. Do not cross the fine line between confidence and arrogance; while managers want employees who are self-assured, no one wants an employee who thinks he is better than everyone else.

Highlight Independence

A manager often has numerous employees and tasks, so he needs to know he can give an employee an assignment and that she will accomplish it without micro-management. During the interview, provide examples of projects you were able to accomplish with minimal management intervention and how you were able to identify situations when you truly needed assistance. You may want to discuss how you prioritize different tasks and manage your time to show a manager he does not need to hover over you to ensure you get your work done.

Exhibit Ambition

Managers want to hire employees who show not just that they can do the job, but who show ambition and initiative. Employees who show a high level of interest in the role, company and industry are likely to stay with the company longer than those who just happen to match the skill set, but aren't really engaged in the company's mission. Researching the company before you interview allows you to ask intelligent questions while showing you are keenly interested in the job. During the interview, provide examples of initiatives you've taken in previous jobs; discuss projects you've pursued after you suggested them to your manager, as well as steps you've taken beyond project expectations that made the project a success.

Show Commitment

Employers want to hire people who will have a lengthy tenure with the company and, ideally, progress into more senior roles. Length of service at a previous employer can work in your favor, especially if you can show that you continued to learn and grow professionally at that company. Even if you job hop, you can show commitment by discussing the factors that have had you moving from job-to-job; managers will often understand decisions to move based on lack of opportunities, a change in corporate or departmental direction, and economic conditions.

Be Part of the Team

Grading on how well you play with others may have stopped in elementary school, but employers still look at your interpersonal skills as key factors in your success as an employee. Managers and individual contributors in an organization want to know you can work well in a team. You may be asked to discuss how you handled tumultuous interpersonal relationships in the past; be ready with examples where you were able to work through a situation successfully.

Be a Communicator

How you answer and ask questions during a job interview will give your prospective manager an idea of how well you communicate with others. Show versatility with different communication methods -- email, instant messaging, phone, and face-to-face discussions -- and an understanding of when these different forms of communication work and don't work. This is especially important if your job requires you to work with employees who work in a different location than you.

Display Problem Solving Skills

A good manager wants her employees to solve problems and make decisions on their own, or at least provide recommendations on how to move forward. On your resume, include examples of problems you solved successfully or recommendations you made that were enacted. You can add details around the situation, expectation and outcome during your interview. If you don't have a significant enough example for your resume, come prepared with other examples so that you can show you have the understanding and initiative, even if your previous roles didn't offer you the opportunity to make a decision or solve a problem that impacted the department, company or project.

Show Flexibility

In today's global and highly connected world, companies often need to change course quickly, in a big way or in small ones. This means that employees need to be flexible and show they are willing to refocus and re-prioritize when it's in the company's best interest. Be ready to discuss scenarios where you've had to change priorities quickly to work on something deemed more critical to the organization. Showing interest in new technologies, tools and processes relevant to your industry also shows you understand ongoing changes that can cause you and your company to change position quickly.

About the Author

Ilene Tatroe has worked in the technology industry since 1996, with more than 10 years as a product manager for human capital management and workforce optimization applications. She has an MBA in marketing from Bentley University, as well as a Masters in journalism from New York University.

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