By Joe Stein
It is really not rocket science what employers want out of the average employee, yet sometimes it so difficult to find in applicants. For a qualified Job Seeker, if you have and can show you possess just a handful of core positive employee behaviors, it will significantly increase your ability to land a new job.
So, what are these core traits? It is tempting for Job Seekers to believe that these are elusive attributes that hardly anyone has. The reality is just the opposite, as the short list below are items that virtually anyone can have, but unfortunately many do not. Focus on these 6 items and how you can convince the Recruiter and Hiring Manager that you possess what they are looking. You may find yourself with the job you have been hoping for.
1. Be Reliable – Companies are looking for people they can rely upon that will have limited absences. For the employer, having an employee absent creates multiple hardships, from lowering customer service or production levels, to increased overtime costs from others. There are also general morale issues from people who have to carry an extra burden due to being shorthanded. Determine how to convey to the Interviewer that you will be reliable, and then do it once you are hired. Examples include giving advance notice for any appointments (and scheduling them for beginning or end of workday to minimize impact) and coming into work even on those days when you really don’t feel 100%. It is very common for an Interviewer to hear from a Job Seeker that he or she is reliable; to differentiate yourself from the idle talk, provide actual examples. Share with the prospective employer how you have rearranged appointments or activities based on work needs, and how you have filled-in for others by volunteering to assist. Physically display your reliability by being prompt for all appointments during the selection process.
2. Display Flexibility – Today’s work environment creates a need for constant change. Workers who are flexible are much more valuable to an employer. This can be displayed by the ability to work a variety of schedules (including non-traditional ones such as 3rd shift and weekend work), to being able to nimbly adapt to changes in processes, technology, or machinery. Provide examples of how you volunteered to pitch in at different times (such as for inventory), and express how you have been able to learn new machines or programs with a minimum level of training.
3. Listen and Follow Instructions – This is one area that has become a bit of a lost art. Do not let your desire to “sell yourself” in the interview get in the way of intently listening to the conversation the Interviewer is having with you. Follow along closely without interrupting the speaker. Show that you have been listening by answering the questions presented with the information requested by the Interviewer. Follow the process presented to you completely from submitting your application/resume to whatever instructions your prospective employer provides you with regarding follow-up contact.
4. Ability to Communicate – In this digital age, our ability to communicate effectively seems to deteriorate with each invention that is designed to improve this skill. Sometimes it seems to be an impossible task to find someone who can write consecutive sentences without grammatical or punctuation errors. The use of slang has also become so prevalent in oral communication, that it sometimes appears that two people speaking English are conducting a conversation in different languages. Regardless of the position, the ability to communicate is a key element in success. Very few positions do not require any skill in either written or oral communication (or both!). Start by having a well written Cover Letter and application/Resume free of errors. In the interview, use not only your listening skills (as noted above), but communicate in a manner that presents you professionally.
5. Stay Positive – This area can be a challenge for the unemployed, particularly when a person has been out of work for a longer period of time. It makes sense that a Hiring Manager would like to surround himself with people who are positive and will work well with others. This is an area where your actions will be observed closely by the Recruiter and Hiring Manager. Maintain a high energy level throughout the process, while also being understanding if changes occur to scheduling, etc. You can also display how positive your outlook is by not complaining about previous employers and supervisors, and by not expressing how frustrated you are by your current employment status.
6. Display Loyalty – I know it seems that loyalty in today’s labor environment is only a one-way street in favor of employers. Most employers do, however, want to keep their best workers from leaving. Most Hiring Managers do want to have employees who will be loyal to them and will stay for a long-term tenure. Hiring and training a new employee can be a lot of work, and one that most employers would prefer not to have to repeat often. It will help you immensely in this area if you have a solid application/resume where you have employer stops of at least a few years each. You can also express your loyalty to this role and company by being able to explain why this position is right for you.
As you probably were able to gather, the list above of core items is very basic, but it will serve to differentiate otherwise qualified applicants. Conduct some self-examination regarding how you rank with these 6 elements and determine either how you can better express your value in these areas, and/or how you can improve on all.
As always, best of luck in your job search!