The 8 Top Qualities Employers Look For In An Employee

The 8 Top Qualities Employers Look For In An Employee
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 03 November, 2022

If you want to know what employers look for in an employee, let’s first look at the current business environment and discover what needs to get done and what skills and qualities are required to do this.

The Challenges of an Uncertain World

The present world situation is one of uncertainty and confusion. Theorists have terms for it this -- VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) for the pre-Covid world and BANI (brittle, anxious, non-linear, incomprehensible) for the post-Covid global situation.

There are other similar terms, but in the workplace they all mean practically the same thing – that constant, unpredictable change is now the norm in some industries and areas of the business world.

With the external environment changing rapidly and unpredictably due to factors such as climate change, the pandemic and other health crises, and war, even more challenges for businesses and their stakeholders have arisen.

What employers look for in an employee are those qualities and skills that will help an organization weather crises, surmount instability, and pivot to advantageous directions.

Also read: Transferable skills 101 (Part 3): 12 skills that will make you a valuable asset to any employer

What Strengths and Weaknesses Do Employers Look For

No matter what the industry or the job, there are certain strengths in an employee that an employer looks for and weaknesses they avoid. In a BANI world, employers are looking for employees with the capacity to develop their existing skills and adapt to changing situations as the conditions around them shift.

Here are the 8 top qualities or strengths that will give employees and candidates an edge in the workplace:

1. Resiliency

In a world of constant and rapid change, employers are looking for employees to be resilient and flexible as new challenges arise. Not only must employees be able to bounce back from adversity, they should be able to quickly adapt in response to transforming situations. This also means being agile enough to dodge the bullets of crises, and nimble enough to forge and climb new paths when the old ways leave you stuck.

2. Leadership and teamwork

People who have the ability to lead others and work in a team structure are assets to any organization. Collaboration with others is important to get work done, and empathy is key to creating synergy with others. Be the employee who works well with others in a group, can manage others effectively, and turn collective ideas into creative solutions.

Also read: These 12 Vital Leader Qualities Will Help You Succeed

3. Digital literacy

In today’s technology-driven world, employees must be able to use not only basic office software and apps, they should also know how to use any special software required to do their particular jobs. Being able to use word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software as well as online meeting apps is the bare minimum required of employees in today’s digital workplace.

4. Oral and written communication

It’s important for employees to have good speaking and writing skills, both in person – let’s say, pitching to a client or participating in a meeting – and online – such as writing emails that help get the job done. Learn how to develop these skills through practice and mentoring (ask a friend you trust to help you write your first few emails or to listen to you practice a pitch or speech).

5. Time management

We often juggle multiple activities or events at work and at home. The ability to plan, prioritize, and organize work will help you and your team stay on track. Employees should manage their time efficiently in order to meet work deadlines and participate in meetings and other activities on time.

6. Critical thinking and problem solving

Employers value these particular skills very highly, and these are also what they look for in potential leaders. Critical thinking is being able to examine and analyze information and use it to make decisions going forward. Problem solving is using critical thinking to come up with solutions. Add a spark of creativity to come up with innovative, out-of-the-box ideas that will help move the organization in the right direction.

7. Knowledge management

Many employers consider as very valuable those employees who have the ability to obtain and process information, analyze quantitative data, make sense of qualitative data, and create the reports that summarize all these analyses for decision makers. Remember -- information is strength, knowledge is power!

8. Professionalism and a strong work ethic

Being professional at all times on the job means maintaining an even, steady demeanor no matter what arises. Losing your temper or self-control are red flags for an employer. Professionalism is also shown in the way you present and carry yourself, so proper attire is a must. Treat everyone you meet with decency and respect.

Manifest a strong work ethic by coming on time, staying the correct number of hours, and making sure you give your best work and submit it by the deadline, if not earlier. Showing initiative is another indicator of these qualities.

How about weaknesses?

But even while employers look for strengths, they also keep an eye out for weaknesses in an employee that could hold back the organization’s progress. Speaking in general terms, these are the traits that are the opposite of what employees are looking for.

Employers also watch out for those who are unskilled in the basic competencies that any employee should know, such as the use of basic office software and social media apps (these are necessary skills in today’s digital and technology-driven world). Negative traits such as bad attitudes and the tendency to slack off, cut corners, and do less than excellent work will turn off employers.

How to Make Yourself a More Attractive Candidate or Employee

After reading the list of top employee qualities above, are there any mentioned that you feel you need to develop more in yourself? Anyone can take the journey toward self-improvement. Here’s how:

Assess your skills and competencies.

Sit down when you have an extended period of time all to yourself and take stock of your skills and qualities. List both your strengths and weaknesses on a piece of paper. Be honest with yourself.

List your next steps.

Now write what you can do to boost your strengths and correct your weaknesses. Do you need special training to learn that new software, or can you find videos online to help you self-study?

If it’s a quality you need to develop, like confidence and resilience, consult your mentor (someone you go to for professional advice) how to go about it. They may suggest books to read and practices and exercises for you to perform. You may also approach your HR officer. In any case, find ways to learn what you need to in order to fill in your gaps.

Set personal goals to develop your selected qualities and skills.

Once you have determined the qualities and skills you want to enhance, and you’ve listed the practical ways you can develop them, now set the actual goals and targets to help you achieve your desired improvement in tangible ways.

Set aside a notebook just for this purpose, or create an electronic spreadsheet to track your activities. Either way, list your specific goals. For example, “Learn advanced Excel skills in six months” or “Develop public speaking skills by getting invited to speak at my old high school by the next quarter.”

Beside each specific goal, write the time frame in which you intend to accomplish it. Remember creating Gantt charts in college? Now put that knowledge to use!

You Can Do This!

Now that you know what employers look for in an employee, you can make things better for yourself by boosting the qualities you have and learning and practicing those that need development.

Be professional and keep an open mind and enthusiastic heart about what you need to do to make yourself a more valuable member of any team.

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