Hiring managers are human beings, so they all have personal likes, dislikes, preferences and points of view. But there are five characteristics that every manager wants to see in every new hire. You’ll stand a better chance of being hired if you emphasize these qualities when you write your resume or go in for an interview.
This is near the top of virtually every manager’s list, and it appears in most help-wanted ads, because it truly is one of the most important skills a worker can have. In any position that interacts with customers or clients, it’s crucial to listen critically and sensitively, to understand not only what the customer says, but also what he means but doesn’t say. (Think about the last time you ate a disappointing meal in a restaurant. When the waitress asked how it was, you probably said “fine.” Did she read beneath the surface and try to make things better for you, even though you didn’t complain?)
You also need to listen to and understand supervisors and co-workers, and you need to be able to communicate your own observations and points of view clearly and diplomatically. Being able to participate in true two-way communication is a real necessity for most jobs.
Employers need to know you’ll be there. Everyone has an occasional personal emergency that might throw a wrench in your schedule, but desirable workers make sure those instances are truly rare. Get sufficient sleep so you can get up on time and work effectively when you’re on the job. Have a system worked out to get the kids off to school and picked up in the afternoon. Have reliable child care and transportation worked out. You shouldn’t have to take multiple phone calls on the job every day to make arrangements: these things should all be settled the night before.
The days of bolting on an unending stream of left front wheels all day long on an assembly line are long gone from most jobs. Even in mass production, workers are now expected to turn to different tasks frequently, and in most occupations and work settings, work changes almost constantly. An effective employee can learn new tasks quickly and shift gears easily. In fact, a variety of work is a great thing for most employees. It keeps the job interesting, and having to learn new skills means that your value as an employee is constantly increasing.
This can be summed up by the phrase “See what needs to be done, and do it.” Effective workers take the initiative to constantly improve their own skills and processes, correct problems, and call attention to issues that are beyond their ability or authority to address on their own. You don’t wait to be told – you’re a doer.
All of the above are part of getting along with everyone on the job: supervisors, co-workers, and customers. No one gets to have everything their own way – even the boss is answerable to someone. Employable workers can accept supervision and criticism, and they’re willing to follow someone else’s procedures to achieve someone else’s goals without complaint. Sometimes this requires teamwork and cooperation with peers. Sometimes it’s following instructions to the best of your ability. And sometimes it means taking initiative, being creative, and doing more than you were told to do.
No one has all these qualities in perfect measure, but good employees try to maximize them for the sake of the job. Let prospective employers know your strengths in these areas, and let them know you understand their importance.