What Employers Want In Employees


by Arnie Sherr, The Resume Store | April 14, 2022

The single most important complaint from those who thought their interviews went well is, “they are not told why they were not offered the job.”

Permit me to tell you why employers refrain from answering such inquiries. It is for the same reason employers with workforces greater than 50 will not provide job references. Doing so makes them vulnerable to legal retaliation. In other words, they can be sued for slander.

CLICK HERE to read more about legal issues surrounding references.

My best advice: do not search for reasons why not – press forward, instead. Solutions, in this scenario, will not come from what was; they will, if the improvement is really desired, come from what can be done to improve what has and is presently being done.

If the cake you just baked tastes bad: “the answer is not in looking for what you did; you are better served to look for what you didn’t.”

To answer the question, “What do they want from me; why am I continually rejected?” I urge you to read on…

It is important to understand that what is written to cover letters and resumes is not what gets applicants job offers. Conversely, what earns job offers are things that can’t generally be written to cover letters and resumes, at least not proven. Don’t misunderstand; cover letters and resumes are important, only to get interview invitations. Demonstrating the criteria that earn offers of employment is a horse of another color, so to say!

In conclusion, all who have been invited to interview have rather similar resumes, content-wise. What ultimately earns job offers is what each applicant does at the interview that leaves their competition wondering, when all is said and done, what they did wrong in their respective interviews. You know how they feel – you’ve been there/done that. They are angered by the fact that no one will say what they did wrong. I repeat, “it’s not what is done wrong; it’s what isn’t done right!”

Employers seek the following list of skills. However, in as much as they are written to cover letters and resumes, their level of proficiency can only be demonstrated or proven after being hired.

Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written): The one skill mentioned most often by employers is the ability to listen, write, and speak effectively. Successful communication is critical in business.

Analytical/Research Skills: Deals with your ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed.

Computer/Technical Literacy: Almost all jobs now require some basic understanding of computer hardware and software, especially word processing, spreadsheets, and email.

Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities: Deals with your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments.

Interpersonal Abilities: The ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict with co-workers is essential given the amount of time spent at work each day.

Leadership/Management Skills: While there is some debate about whether leadership is something people are born with; these skills deal with your ability to take charge and manage your co-workers.

Multicultural Sensitivity/Awareness: There is possibly no bigger issue in the workplace than diversity, and job-seekers must demonstrate sensitivity and awareness of other people and cultures.

Planning/Organizing: Deals with your ability to design, plan, organize, and implement projects and tasks within an allotted time frame. Also involves goal-setting.

Problem-Solving/Reasoning/Creativity: Involves the ability to find solutions to problems using your creativity, reasoning, past experiences, and available information and resources.

Teamwork: Because so many jobs involve working in one or more workgroups, you must have the ability to work with others professionally while attempting to achieve a common goal.

Personal Values Employers Seek in Employees

The values, personality traits, and personal characteristics that employers seek are of equal importance to skills. In as much as these can also be written to cover letters and resumes, they cannot be proven because they are so stated within cover letters and resumes.

Here are ten of the most important…

Honesty/Integrity/Morality: Employers probably respect personal integrity more than any other value, especially in light of the many recent corporate scandals.

Adaptability/Flexibility: Deals with openness to new ideas and concepts, working independently or as part of a team, and carrying out multiple tasks or projects.

Dedication/Hard-Working/Work Ethic/Tenacity: Employers seek job-seekers who love what they do and keep at it until they solve the problem and get the job done.

Dependability/Reliability/Responsibility: There’s no question that all employers desire employees who will arrive to work every day – on time – and ready to work and take responsibility for their actions.

Loyalty: Employers want employees who will have a strong devotion to the company, even when the company is not necessarily loyal to its employees.

Positive Attitude/Motivation/Energy/Passion: The job-seekers who get hired and the employees who get promoted are those with drive and passion and demonstrate this enthusiasm through their words and actions.

Professionalism: Deals with acting responsibly and fairly in all your personal and work activities, which is a sign of maturity and self-confidence; avoid being petty.

Self-Confidence: Look at it this way: if you don’t believe in yourself, in your unique mix of skills, education, and abilities, why should a prospective employer? Be confident in yourself and what you can offer employers.

Self-Motivated/Ability to Work with Little or No Supervision: While teamwork is always mentioned as an important skill, so is the ability to work independently with minimal supervision.

Willingness and ability to Learn: No matter what your age, no matter how much experience you have, you should always be willing to learn a new skill or technique. Jobs are constantly changing and evolving, and you must show an openness to grow and learn with that change.

Final Thoughts

Employability skills and personal values are the critical tools and traits needed to succeed in the workplace; they are all elements that can be learned, cultivated, developed, and maintained over lifetimes. However, once these sought-after skills and values are identified and assessed in the degree to which they are practiced, it is time to turn what interviewers have merely read into tangibly evidenced proficiencies.

It is not enough to simply have written of their presence; demonstrating their level of proficiency is what ultimately earns offers of employment.”

I met a young aspiring actor once. He told me he was on as many as 50 auditions in the past six months. When I asked why he had never won any parts, he told me those he auditioned for wouldn’t know talent if it hit them squarely between their eyes. So, I don’t think I have to explain why he hasn’t won any parts.

Interviews are very much the same as auditions. Just as the actor couldn’t prove his advertised abilities, those who persist in asking why they didn’t get the job haven’t learned how to prove their advertised abilities.

There are many professional career designations synonymous with auditioning. Interviewing is but one; others are lecturing, teaching, coaching, sales presentations, counseling, etc. Knowing this, it must be apparent that they all have something in common. If done well, something that earns the actor the part, the salesman the order, the teacher a high achieving class, the lecturer a standing ovation, the coach a little league championship, and of course, the interviewee offers of employment.

I hope by now the common ingredient to which I infer is obvious. But, if it is not, I herein make it known; “believability.”

There is another commonality with lecturing, teaching, coaching, sales presenting, counseling, and the like, and of course, interviewing. That commonality, not so obvious, is “control.”

In all cases, he, she, or they who control most times prevail. Actors, salespeople, coaches, lecturers, and yes, interviewees that attain their goals use expressions such as “I had him, her, or them eating out of my hands; I killed, I tell ya, I killed! They are saying that they took and maintained control from the beginning to the close. Successful close evidence appears in many forms; standing ovations, award ceremonies, great student grades, sports trophies, top sales status, and, yes, offers of employment.

How are they executed? A script was written for the actor’s audition, the salesman’s presentation, the teacher’s lesson plan, the coach’s practice sessions, and the interviewee’s presentation. Whether written by another or by oneself, performing a believable presentation, audition, script, lesson plan, etc., puts the performer in the top 20% of the Pareto Principle.

A great performance demonstrates and proves many things written to resumes and many that can’t be written. I’ll leave these determinations to you. Good luck with your next interview; follow my lead, and it may be your last, at least for now!

Need I say more? If I must, I am only a phone call away – 727-219-0177 | 800-729-7446.

15 thoughts on “What Employers Want In Employees”

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