Leverage 9 Irresistible Traits Of Top Job Candidates To Get Your Next Job
“How do I get an employer’s attention?” Monica asked us. “I’ve been ready to change jobs for a while but finally found a company I truly want to work for. What do employers find irresistible about candidates?”
Monica, as well as a handful of people we know, listed “Get a new job” as her top resolution for 2018.And, although neither of us claim to be resume-writing experts, we’ve both spent years listening to managers around the world tell us about their employee wish-lists—the traits they want to see from their current people, and their future hires.
Here’s our list of the nine traits we’ve heard about most. Maybe you can use one or more of these to make yourself irresistible to an employer.
- Passion: Often over-used as corporate lingo, employers want people who actually care about doing great work. They want people who honestly believe they will make a positive difference to the organization or team, instead of just someone who thinks their job is simply to meet expectations. If you want to be an irresistible candidate, look for ways to communicate how you’ll improve the work rather than just fill a gap.
- Innovation: Many of us feel intimidated by calling ourselves innovators or creators. Nevertheless, leaders understand that their job is to hire people who will improve the status quo, and not just sustain it. Whether or not you’ve ever considered yourself an innovator, or whether you’ve viewed your job as creative, it’s important to convey to potential employers how you’ve been an innovator in your past roles. Showing how you improved a system, a procedure, a policy, a product, or even a relationship will make you irresistible.
- Network: We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Many of us misunderstand the true power of that saying. Instead of assuming you need to know someone to get your foot in the door, look at your army of connections as an asset you can bring to a future employer. How could your network (personal and social) benefit the team, the department, or the entire organization? Irresistible candidates have irresistible networks—connections to people and organizations that offer extreme value.
- Service: Often marginalized by the notion that service means a smiley face and a can-do attitude, leaders want to hire people who understand the true meaning of service—that you want to create value for someone other than yourself, especially when the value you create reaches above and beyond your job description. If you want to be an irresistible candidate, show your future employer how you created value for someone—a frustrated customer, an overwhelmed coworker, or even another department.
- Grit: The word grit sounds like something our grandfathers would say. However, as we’ve travelled around the world, numerous leaders have told us that they often get frustrated because they see solid employees give up on projects too easily. To become irresistible to future employers, learn to tell stories about both successes and how you showed true grit through failures. The hiring manager will appreciate your honesty and understand that you won’t easily quit when times get tough.
- Optimism: The word optimism often gets criticized by many hard-edged leaders as a soft business concept. And by no means are we suggesting that job candidates run around telling recruiters how optimistic they are. Nevertheless, we’ve been told by numerous leaders that one of their biggest hurdles is simply getting their people to believe that far-reaching goals can actually be met or even surpassed. Employers find people who aim big, believe big, and achieve big, absolutely irresistible.
- Collaboration: When we were kids, there was a box to check on report cards that read, “Plays well with others.” And, whether your sitting in a sandbox or a boardroom we know that check-box is still critically important. Leaders are not only looking for employees who can get along with others (because drama is never fun) but also work with and collaborate with others—especially with people who don’t share the same perspectives. If you want to capture attention, show potential employers how you turned a situation of differing opinions into a benefit for the organization.
- Pause: We understand, in business, time is money. However, we also understand that, as humans, it’s easy for us all to slip into auto-pilot mode at work sometimes—where we’re simply going through the motions because these are the motions we went through yesterday and the day before that. Our research shows that pausing to ask challenging questions like, “Why are we doing it this way?” or “What if we tried something different?” can turn into huge successes for individuals, teams, and organizations. If you want to get an employer’s attention, show them that you’re always challenging the current system to look for improvement.
- Appreciation: It’s no secret that when you send off a resume, show up for an interview, and tell an employer that you’d like to work for them, that you’re looking for an improvement in your work-life—a job that pays more, a closer culture fit, or a career better aligned with your personal purpose. And it’s okay to talk about it. However, it’s also important to show your appreciation for the experiences, and the people, who have led you down your path. Be grateful to the leaders in your past who told you to chase your dreams, the bad bosses who showed you everything you didn’t want to become, and the coworkers who helped you achieve all those successes you included on your resume. As a job candidate, you will be irresistible because you’re proving that no matter what happens, you’ll leave appreciating the opportunity they can give to you.
These are the top wish-list items we’ve heard from managers around the world. If you’ve got more, we’d love to hear about them. Send your employee wish-list traits to us today!
Our latest book is Appreciate: Celebrating People, Inspiring Greatness, or learn more about the NYT Bestselling book Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love