When it comes to the hiring process, both employers and job applicants enter the situation with some specific expectations and preferences. But are they aware of what’s important to each other? Maybe. Maybe not. Employers are primarily focused on ensuring that applicants are bringing the right foundational skills to the table. Job applicants are interested in companies that treat them with respect and consideration during the hiring process.
In today’s post we’ll talk about what employers want. Next week we’ll look at what’s important to job applicants.
What are employers looking for?
Whether dealing with recent college grads, seasoned employees, or mid-life career changers, there are certain skills employers want all of their employees to possess.
The “soft skills” that matter most to employers are:
- The ability to work well as part of a team
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills—both written and verbal
- The ability to analyze information, make decisions and solve problems
- Strong organizational skills (prioritize)
- The ability to take initiative and influence others
- Project management skills
Employers want evidence that job applicants have these skills when they look at the resume as well as during interviews. They want to know that potential employees can see the bigger picture, process information and interact well with people. Many employers say that communication is just as important as technical skills.
For college grads specifically, employers are very interested in any internships, part-time jobs, volunteering, and extracurricular activities. This type of experience often supersedes the importance of college reputation, GPA, and courses taken. They want to hear job applicants discuss these experiences in the context of communicating, collaborating, organizing and making decisions.
Attitude and preparedness for the interview are also weighted quite heavily by employers. Employers want to know that this job and this particular company are important to the applicants they’re interviewing. A good employer has put a lot of time into reading through and paring down the piles of resumes, checking out applicants’ social media presence and preparing for the interview. They are going to expect the same from the individuals applying to work for their companies.
It is important for applicants to not only be able to answer questions about their resumes, work experiences and achievements, but also to articulate very clearly why they want the job. They also need to show that they have done their homework on learning about the company by asking in-depth questions of their own. Applicants should be able to show they’ve put their time into learning about the company but they should not come across as assuming they know everything. Employers want to see genuine interest when interacting with job candidates and appreciate well thought out questions about relevant industry issues. And, of course, they want people who show up on time, project confidence and would be considered good representatives of the company.
Be sure to check back next week when we wrap up this two-part post by exploring the other half of the equation—what job applicants want from employers.
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