Getting a job can be difficult, especially in a troubled economy. While there are thousands of different potential jobs a person could apply for, and an equally vast number of qualifications required for each of these different jobs, there are certain traits and characteristics that nearly all employers expect and desire in job applicants. These characteristics are essential for success in the labor market and can help you stand out from other candidates and make a great impression on a prospective new boss.
Job Skills and Education
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An employer does not want to hire you unless you are able to do the job. The specific type of job skills required, of course, vary depending upon the job. A person who hopes to be hired as a corporate executive needs to have different types of job skills then a person who hopes to be hired as a horseback riding instructor or a cashier. However, in all of these positions, an experienced candidate is usually preferred over an inexperienced candidate. This means that it is important to select an industry and begin to develop your place within it. You can get internships, work as an apprentice or even volunteer in order to get your foot in the door and get practical experience in the field to put on a resume.
In some cases, a certain type of education or degree can also provide you with relevant job skills. Going to vocational school to learn your trade or business school to get an advanced course in economics or math can help you make a positive impression on employers within the relevant industries.
Honesty and Integrity
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There are almost no jobs in the world in which an employer will not value honestly and integrity. From corporate scandals on Wall Street to the cashiers who steal from the cash register, an employee who is not honest can have a dramatically adverse impact upon a business.
While it may be difficult to prove you have this characteristic--after all, honesty and integrity are not something you can simply put on a resume or show in a list of past jobs--honesty is essential to have. Some employers overtly test for honesty and integrity, giving perspective employees personality quizzes and standard tests designed to root out potentially dishonest employees. These tests might contain questions about how you would respond if you witnessed an employee taking money from the cash register, or they might ask whether it is stealing to take home company office supplies. Some jobs require background checks or credit checks in order to give a potential employer the opportunity to gauge an employee's honesty and integrity. For example, before passing the Bar to become a lawyer, applicants have to pass a moral character exam in which they provide references who can attest to their moral fitness.
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Like honesty and integrity, almost every job requires you to communicate with someone. Good communications skills are, thus, often valued and essential within almost all industries. Managers must be able to communicate with their staff, customer service agents must be able to communicate with the customer, and teachers must be able to communicate with students. Even industries known for independent work, such as computer coding or programming, involve communication with potential customers, other staff members or other departments within the firm.
Communications skills may also be difficult to demonstrate on a resume. You may list past projects you have worked on with others, and that could attest to your communications skills (although that may be a better example of your teamwork skills--another essential characteristic). Most often, your communications skills are assessed in your interview: are you able to make yourself understood, answer questions clearly and thoughtfully, and speak in a professional and appropriate manner.
Pride in the Job and Work Ethic
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No employer wants to hire someone who does not take pride in his work or who doesn't care about the job. Employers want to hire people who are proactive, who care about what they are doing and who do their best. Doing the minimum required to get by is not enough to excel at a job, and employers want someone who knows this.
Your references and work history can attest to whether you have work ethic. Have you worked at a lot of different jobs because you have been fired, or have you moved up through one company? Have you been promoted? Do your references speak highly of you? All of these things can tell a prospective employer whether you will be a good asset to his company or a hindrance who just wants to collect a paycheck.
Problem Solving Skills
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Problems are almost guaranteed to come up at every job. Employers often like employees who are able to think outside the box and come up with a solution to a problem. When an employee is vested with responsibility for something, that employee should be able to manage all aspects of that task, including solving problems that arise. Problem solving skills are essential to success and to being a strong, independent and successful worker.
You can demonstrate problem solving skills by thinking of situations in which you have resolved problems in the past. You can list these specific situations on your resume under employment history, or you can bring them up in interviews when and if you are asked a question about problems you have solved or challenges you have overcome.