Survey finds what employers are looking for in a job candidate

Do you want to know what employers are looking for in a job candidate? It’s potential.

According to a recent survey, employers are super interested in your capacity to become something in the future, more so than they are in your experience, personality and education.

45% of hiring managers look for potential above all else

Resume-writing service, TopResume, wanted to know what employers are looking for in a job candidate so they asked nearly 200 recruiters and hiring managers what they valued most in applicants. And that’s what they found.

The researchers asked, “Which of the following is most important in a candidate?” The results are as follows:

Their potential (45%)
Their experience (37%)
Their personality (16%)
Their education (2%)

Nobody  cares that much about your education

Note also how low “education” places in the ranking. Only 2% said it was most important. This is a little weird but not actually surprising — as in, I knew this even if it’s not obvious to everyone. In an era where even the most entry level of positions seem to require at least one university degree, if not several advanced ones, almost nobody actually cares about your education. Good to know you can drop out of school now and avoid those student loans (just kidding. Don’t drop out of school! Your mom will get mad at me).

Why potential matters 

Why is potential so important? Because employers want to know that they are hiring someone who will grow with the job and their company – and they want to know that a person is eager and able to learn. Pretty much every industry is subject to change and employers want people who can work within new frameworks. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will nurture that potential and avail themselves of it wisely. They might just want to know it’s there. Still, it’s something to consider when applying for jobs.

Jeff Berger, CEO and founder of Talent Inc., the parent company of TopResume, said, “Our latest survey proves that employers want to see a genuine willingness in today’s workforce to be problem-solvers, even if that requires the employee to demonstrate initiative well beyond their job description. They’re prioritizing candidates with an ability and willingness to learn, grow, and expand their expertise.”

How to demonstrate potential

This is why we often emphasize the importance of continuous learning around here. Always be updating your skillset, reading, and adding to your job market value. This is key. It’s also key to communicate this willingness to learn to employers, or they won’t see your potential. How do you showcase your awesome potential to hiring managers?

Be friendly and enthusiastic. Hopefully you were going to do this anyway. But, well, just in case. A good hiring manager knows that, given the choice between one applicant with all the required skills and a bad attitude and another with a good attitude who is missing some key skills, they should hire the first one. Why? Because you can always train for skills. So, if you hire the first person, you will soon have a great employee with a good attitude. But a jerk will probably always be a jerk. Check your attitude at the door.

Focus on soft skills. Demonstrate examples of your communication, problem solving and people skills in your application materials and in your interview.

Be interested. Ask questions and respond to interviewer questions and comments with your own questions that demonstrate an interest in the position and company. Demonstrate your willingness to learn by learning from the conversation you are having.

Show your career progression and accomplishments. A history of progressive accomplishments and career advancement shows that you are someone who moves forward. Demonstrate your capacity for success by holding up examples of it.

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