What Do Most Employers Want?

what do most employers want

What Do Most Employers Want?

The Top Ten skills that most employers want in new employees


We often think about what a particular job or role can offer us, but how often do we think about what employers want in their new employees? Of course, the job description is a clue, but there are ten things that almost all employers want their staff to have. Including them in your CV and LinkedIn profile, and thinking through stories that can help you illustrate them, will give you a good foundation in your job-hunting.

Knowing that you can display or talk about them will also help your confidence level. If there are any gaps, you can work on filling them. This could be through asking for extra responsibilities in your current role, volunteering or doing some training in your spare time.

What do most most employers want?

So, here are the top ten skills that most employers generally want in their people:

10.  Time Management

Your employer will want to know that you can juggle multiple tasks, reach deadlines and assess priorities. Make sure you have good examples of these up your sleeve for an interview. You can also highlight a few in your cover letter.

If you use certain software to help you plan (e.g. Monday.com), then mention it. Think about how you plan your typical day and be prepared to take them through it. Be prepared to talk about how you work virtually too, as this is now common.

9. Flexibility

No business wants someone who cannot deal with change. Luckily, change is such a large part of our lives that we all have a story about how change has impacted us, and how we dealt with it. The pandemic is excellent fodder. It can help us show how we were affected and how we adapted. This could be how you moved your last job to virtual working, or how you’ve retrained on furlough.

8. Planning and Organising

Do you have an example of something you’ve planned from the beginning and brought to fruition? It could be a one day conference, perhaps, or a full on campaign for a new product launch. Think through your own contribution and what happened at what point. What went wrong? How did you change plans? What contingency plans did you have?

If you don’t have much experience of this, think about non-work occasions that you could talk about.

7. Written Communication

Show that you can express yourself clearly in writing. You will be doing this in your CV, LinkedIn profile and cover letter. This means that they need to be perfect and to the point. No waffling.

If you are writing a cover letter, look at the job spec and make sure that you address the key skills and strengths that they will be looking for within it. Go one step further and check out the company website and its values. How can you demonstrate, in writing, that you would fit in?

6. Drive

Drive is the determination to get things done. Finished. It’s all very well and good having creative ideas, but businesses need someone who can finish things off. Show them a time when you finished a project. Talk about things you do in your own time that illustrate your self-motivation and get up go. If reading and watching Netflix is the extent of your after work activities, you need to get a life!

Hmm, that’s an interesting thought: get a life to get a job!

There is one caveat though. Make sure it’s not something that looks as though it might take you away from your work. This could mean time-wise (sailing races around the country), or headspace. Reassure them that this will not be the case, even before it comes up.

5. Initiative and Self-Motivation

Show them that you can act on your own initiative. This means pulling out a time when you did XYX because you could see the project was going to fall apart otherwise. Or perhaps you identified an opportunity for the firm to make some more money, by adding in a follow up service to existing customers. Be prepared to tell the story of how the idea came about.

Show them that you can be proactive in putting forward ideas and solutions. An easy way to do this is to look at their own offerings and ask them something like “Have you ever thought of Z.”

4. Analysing and Investigating

This may not be relevant to a creative role, perhaps. Nevertheless, being able to reference a time when you have investigated and analysed (a research project perhaps) could give you a lead on someone who hasn’t. Remember, it’s all about making yourself stand out. Any added extras are always good news to an employer.

Be prepared to talk about your findings, and how you carried out the research. These are the things interviewers often jump on as they are easy interview questions.

3. Commercial Awareness

You need to be aware of how a business operates, and the key things that can influence its success. There are two parts to this. The first is general commercial awareness of how business works. If you are applying for a role with a CIC and you don’t know what one is, or how it differs from a charity, you need to do some reading. You also need to read up on the company itself: its history, competitors and where it might be going.

Show, both within your cover letter and your interview, that you have been thinking about how you can make the company more profitable.

2. Teamwork

Even if you will be working alone in this role, being able to show that you can work confidently as part of a group will paint you as a good all-rounder. Make sure, however, that you don’t end up moaning about other colleagues. Keep it positive, without being too over the top. Be clear about your own contribution. Do not ever pretend that you did something that someone else actually caried out as it will come back to haunt you.

If you are new in your career or haven’t much experience of team work within your role, think about other times where you have worked as part of a team. Volunteering, for instance, would be a good example, or a University project.

If this is missing from your CV, I do suggest doing something in your own time that involves team work so you can plug this gap. Without it, your CV is going to be missing a key ingredient.

And the top one is…

Verbal Communication

You are able to express your ideas clearly and confidently through speech. For the most part, you can generally only show this during an interview. However, there are some jobs now that are asking you to record a short video to accompany your application – or why not do this anyway to really stand out?

Things they will be looking for are you being able to get across your points without losing your direction. Most employers would like their employees to have an opinion about things, especially within the industry. If it’s controversial, just make sure that you can back it up.

I think the key here is to have some stories. Stories can show your experience but in a personal way. Little touches can give them a glimpse of your personality, and, of course, every good story has a challenge. Having a few stories about how you were working on Project X, or overcame a particular challenge, should help you demonstrate verbal communication.

Think about showing all of these, and you have have covered the ten main bases. Everything else will be more about the particular role and its needs.

Interested in looking at how you weave your own experiences and skills into a knock out cover letter? Book a session with Paula here.




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