Most-wanted employee traits

Introducing the employee traits that could speed up your job search…

As per yesterday’s post, we’re dedicating all of January to positive news items to support your career goals. Today, we’ll take a look at the six top traits that can enhance job search success.

Each of these attributes has been selected by recruiters, so you know they’re qualities that employers are genuinely looking for.

We’ll also share our own pointers throughout this post to help you get the most out of the information provided.

A reminder before you read on…

You don’t necessarily need to possess each trait to find a new job! When reading articles such as these, look out for those characteristics you already have and consider how you can best highlight them.

As for any remaining qualities, there’s always the chance to build these in future.

Six of the most-wanted employee traits

1. Proactivity

  • This quality earned a unanimous vote from the recruiters. It could also be referred to as ‘initiative’ as the description details the ability to prioritise, alongside working ‘independently and unprompted’.
  • Brainstorm examples of when your employers have benefited from your initiative and/or proactive nature. Weave these into your CV and interview responses.
  • Really want to prove your initiative? Consider the ways you can go beyond your job-seeking competitors. For example, by taking your interview research a step further and suggesting ways you can help achieve company goals or overcome business challenges.

2. Adaptability

  • Again, this attribute could come under another name: ‘flexibility’. Employers are looking to see that you can adapt to any changes that occur – whether these are changes to your everyday working role or larger organisational happenings.
  • As above (and for each of our subsequent tips!) start by brainstorming some of your finest practical examples. What changes have you faced and overcome at work?
  • You can also ensure to remain outwardly calm and positive regarding any surprises or changes that occur throughout your recruitment process. Whether that’s being interviewed by additional team members or being set an unexpected task. Often your attitude to taking on the task is a key part of the decision-making process.

3. Communication

  • Effective communication skills are vital. This isn’t just about your workplace conversations, yet rather each of your verbal, non-verbal and written cues. 
  • Convey positivity and respect towards each point of contact you encounter during your job search. That’s everyone from the receptionist you meet while waiting for your interview to the prospective colleagues you’re introduced to.
  • Don’t think your written communications have to stop at your CV and cover letter. Interview thank you emails offer another opportunity to demonstrate your writing skills. What’s more, there’s nothing to stop you from producing a document that showcases some of your recent projects or other working successes.

4. Commercial sense

  • A strong sense of business savvy or ‘commercial awareness’ can set you apart from your job-seeking competitors. This includes, yet is not limited to, an awareness of relevant industry trends and business opportunities.
  • This takes us back to that need to research beyond the business basics. Investigate industry and economic news reports, watch out for patterns and trends, and consider how your skills could be of benefit.
  • Ask interviewers questions about industry opportunities and challenges. Listen carefully to the responses and, where possible, tell your interviewer why you’re best placed to support them.

5. Empathy

  • Who wants to work with colleagues (or companies) who fail to put themselves in others’ shoes? The ability to be tactful and sensitive is prized and may just become one of the most valuable skills of the future.
  • There are many ways to communicate empathy during your interview. It starts by treating your interviewer like the individual they are. Find out more about what they enjoy about working for the company and the primary challenges they face within their role. Acknowledge their viewpoints.
  • Express empathy when discussing former colleagues or business challenges you’ve faced. Your empathy should also extend to your former employer. What’s more, you should remain mindful of giving away sensitive company information. You also want to convey trust!

6. A positive mindset 

  • The ability to focus on the positives of a situation tells employers you’ll always look for the best in things – something that can really help when faced with future challenges.
  • Let’s return to that old adage about never speaking negatively about colleagues or employers during interviews. It can be tempting to speak too freely about tricky bosses or unpleasant working environments. Instead, spin negatives on their head and discuss the positive outcomes. For example, a brief mention of a challenging role which has helped you foster X and Y skills.
  • Remember those non-verbal communication skills; keep your body language open, smile, and tell your interviewer what would excite or inspire you about working for them.

We hope this post has helped you identify some of your strengths and how to express them. Don’t forget to keep returning to our News & Advice feed throughout January for more support.



Choosing company culture over salary

Which is more important, your company culture or your salary? Why the former may mean more to job satisfaction…

Employers may think a competitive salary is all that’s needed to attract and retain talented team members. Yet, while salaries are clearly important, this way of thinking can be risky in times of skills shortage.

After all, the latest findings indicate that:

  • 57% of people believe their company culture has more of an effect on their job satisfaction than their salary level.
  • 75% would ‘consider’ an employer’s culture before even making a job application.
  • 63% think it’s one of the primary reasons they remain in their role.
  • And 70% of employees would start looking for a new job if their working culture ‘deteriorated’.
  • In addition, respondents favour businesses that represent a ‘clear mission and purpose’ (89%).

It’s not the first time we’ve read such stats. Back in the Spring, it was reported that employees would sacrifice their work-life balance in order to enjoy a positive environment.

Respondents even say they’d choose to work a 60-hour week rather than be a part of a business that ‘doesn’t value culture’.

What contributes to a positive company culture?

Business leaders will want to read this HR News post in full. In summary, there are many elements that contribute to a strong working culture. These include…

  • Respecting – and being fair to – the team
  • Displaying ‘trust and integrity’
  • A culture of teamwork
  • Being flexible/open to improvements
  • Using ‘pre-boarding’ strategies, such as workplace buddies and mentoring for soon-to-be employees
  • Providing continued support/guidance
  • Offering recognition and incentives
  • Flexible working opportunities
  • And strong working relationships (including those with management)

Recognition is also prioritised ahead of pay rises…

Once again, the above list calls to mind another research report.

  • More than 3/5 of employees would rather work for a company that expresses praise and thanks than to be paid 10% more without it.
  • Yet there’s a clear gap between hope and reality, as only 16% of managers think they’ve been given the tools and know-how to ‘recognise colleagues effectively’.

How do you learn more about an employer’s company culture?

Naturally, it can be hard to truly understand a business’s working culture until you’re actively a part of it. Yet there are some great clues to help you decide whether it’s the sort of place that you’d like to work…

  1. Have a really good look at the company’s website. This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people just have a quick glance at the ‘about’ page. Take the time to really read what the business is highlighting about itself and its team.
  2. As well as reading the business’s latest news via their website and social feeds, see what others are saying about them. How do their employees talk about their work on Twitter, etc? Has anyone reviewed their experience of working for the company? The latter tends to be more common for larger regional/national employers. Of course, reviews can be subjective yet they can be helpful if you read them with a critical mind.
  3. Job advertisements can also provide some useful insights. Especially if there are mentions of team outings, company events, employee benefits, charity initiatives, etc.
  4. Search for the business in the actual news – whether local, national or industry publications.
  5. Use interviews as a chance to find out more about the working culture and environment.
  6. And, of course, don’t forget to ask your recruitment consultant for their insights. This is just one of the many benefits of working with an agency who specialises in your field.

Ready to discover a new company culture? Here are the latest jobs