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.



How to showcase your achievements

Whether you’re looking for a job promotion or a brand new role, you need to know how to showcase your achievements to employers…

We’ll focus on targeting recruitment agencies and prospective employers today. However, if you’re reading this from the promotion perspective, simply use the tips to tailor your notes for an upcoming management meeting or appraisal.

Showcasing your achievements throughout your job search: 

The best CVs are those that spotlight your skills and successes – and manage to link these back to the position you’re applying for. Of course, when faced with a blank document, this can be much easier said than done.

Some of the best advice we’ve read on this topic comes from The Balance Careers. They explain how to:

  1. Define your past successes: looking back over previous roles and making sure you know ‘what success looked like in each position.’
  2. List your achievements: considering those moments in which you’ve excelled in your role and noting specific examples.
  3. Quantify your performance: using numbers to illustrate your achievements.
  4. Highlight any awards: as it sounds; we’ll come back to this shortly!
  5. Weave your findings into your CV and cover letter: suggesting powerful keywords, and how and where to reference your successes.

They even share some examples of their tips in action on a CV, cover letter and during an interview.

Please note: the above article comes from an American website, so watch that you don’t let any American-English slip into your CV. This can frustrate prospective employers!

Some extra tips for the list…

  • Even if you’re not actively looking for a job, get in the habit of following items 1-4.  It’s so much easier to recall your achievements when they’re fresh. Keep a dedicated list, so you’ll be able to select the most relevant examples for each job application.
  • Don’t worry if you’ve not been nominated for any awards! There are other ways to show recognition. Perhaps you’ve received praise from a boss or colleague, a promotion, or some form of prize/incentive for your work. Note these examples too.
  • Remember, the UK CV is ideally only around 2 pages long. It may be a single page for those with less work experience, or a 3-page document for more experienced professionals. However, there’s no reason you can’t get a bit creative and incorporate further details into a separate document to submit to your interviewer. Keep this snappy, using bullet points and graphics.
  • Remember, employers want to know how you can help them. Always draw your examples back to your company research. There’s more about this here.

Further reading:



Interview etiquette: expert tips!

How would you rate your interview etiquette? This post contains must-read advice for anyone who has not been interviewed for some time, those who keep being interviewed but are struggling to find a job, and even those who are due to be interviewing someone soon!

Interview etiquette: the rules of engagement

There are a number of rules of thumb when it comes to your general interview approach. Our first source clearly covers the basics:

  • Doing your interview research – from the job spec, to the company website, its social feeds, and any recent news reports.
  • Preparing to ask your own questions.
  • Letting you know how early you should be.
  • Anticipating the ‘greatest weakness’ question (tip: prepare something other than ‘I’m a perfectionist’, which is the most common response).
  • And watching your body language.

As we say, these are the basics. They are expected of all interview candidates and they signal that you’re taking the process seriously.

You can also use these tips to go beyond the basics and set yourself apart. For instance, using your research findings to prepare a document that demonstrates how your experience and/or skill-set suits the company’s mission or needs.

With many candidates spending just 30 minutes on their interview research, your efforts can really pay off.

Interview etiquette: questions to avoid

We’ve mentioned being prepared to ask your own interview questions. Some questions can naturally arise throughout the conversation and it may feel appropriate to ask these at the time. However, you’ll also usually receive an opportunity to ask any outstanding questions towards the end of the interview.

It’s best to spend a bit of time brainstorming this aspect in advance. What do you really want to know about the company or role?

If your prospective salary is the first thing to come to mind, think again! This was one of the five worst questions to ask at interview.

Instead, it could be wiser to think along the lines of asking the interviewer about their own experiences working for the company, their primary goals, expectations or similar.

Where possible, you can use their answer as a final opportunity to ‘sell yourself’ by drawing a connection between their response and your suitability for the role.

Interview etiquette: what you really want to say

The Independent has shared a number of handy insights for anyone who really wants to brush up on their interview technique.

They called it ‘The Four Most Important Phrases to say in a job interview’. It’s a longer-form piece, which outlines…

  1. The best way to respond when asked ‘tell me more about yourself’.
  2. How to show the interviewer that you know the challenges they’re trying to address and how you can help resolve them.
  3. Clearly expressing your ‘value and relevance’, alongside your greatest accomplishments.
  4. Finding a professional way to ascertain your possible suitability for the role.

The Independent also has a second article (already linked above regarding why not to say you’re a perfectionist) highlighting some other interview etiquette tips. These include not making a dig about your current or previous boss, being honest if you’re interviewing elsewhere and not asking about your holiday entitlement.

Interview etiquette: as an interviewer

Prospective interviewers will also want to check their interview etiquette – and the law! – when considering their upcoming questions. It turns out that 85% of interviewers are regularly asking inappropriate, and off-limits, questions. These include asking about:

  • A candidate’s accent
  • Date of birth
  • Year of graduation
  • Marital or relationship status
  • Plans to start a family

For more interview guidance and support, please call your Recruitment Consultant on 01225 313130. Looking for CV advice? Download our free PDF