So, you’ve got the skills and experience listed in the job posting. That’s all you need to land the job, right?
Well, you need more than that.
This is because when an employer puts out a job posting, there’s a pretty good chance they’re going to get lots of “qualified” applicants. Not every applicant is going to be qualified. The more demanding and senior the position, the more stringent the qualifications and the fewer qualified applicants you get. And there are plenty of people out there applying for jobs they’re not skilled to do and have no business applying for. But you can be pretty sure they’re going to get at least a few, and maybe many, qualified applicants.
So, how do you set yourself apart from all the others? By demonstrating to hiring managers that you possess all the other qualities they’re looking for in a candidate beyond hard skills.
Hiring managers want soft skills so badly, they’re sometimes willing to overlook a lack of skill and experience in favour of a great attitude — even when another candidate is much better qualified. This is because it’s easier to train for skills than it is to change someone’s bad attitude. If you’re a jerk, you’ll probably always be a jerk, but if you have a good attitude you can be taught just about anything.
The top soft skills employers are looking for are communication, organization, and teamwork.
You should also have a great work ethic and a high level of integrity. Oh, and your education and references don’t really matter.
This is according to survey results Express Employment Professionals released earlier this year revealing traits that are most important to businesses when hiring job candidates.
In a survey of 1,030 businesses, respondents were asked to rate several “character traits” in order of importance when hiring a candidate with 1 being least important and 5 being most important.
The number one trait(s) was “work ethic/integrity,” meaning managers are looking for someone who is honest and trustworthy – and who will work hard without being asked.
In order of importance, the traits were:
- Work ethic/integrity
- Culture fit
- Critical thinking
- Consistent work history
- Job experience
So, some of those things, like experience and references, aren’t “character traits,” but this still confirms that being reliable, honest, hardworking, and personable are important.
“Work ethic/integrity” topped the list, with an average rating of 4.60 out of 5, followed closely by “attitude” at 4.57. “Communication” was the only other trait with an average rating greater than 4. “Culture fit,” “critical thinking” and “consistent work history” followed, with “job experience,” “education” and “references” rounding out the bottom three.
“All of these traits matter; there’s no doubt about that,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express. “Still, you can help someone build experience or knowledge, but you can’t teach integrity or attitude. That’s reflected in this survey, and it is why employers put such a premium on these traits. Communication and cultural fit are very similar in that regard as well. You just cannot afford to have someone on a team who’s going to harm others’ ability to get the job done.”
The key is to demonstrate that you possess these soft skills and personality traits during the application process, and set yourself ahead of the competition.
This is done by honing your written and verbal communications skills, by paying attention to the details in your resume and cover letter, and by being friendly to everyone. It’s also key to go the extra mile and do the required research on the company at which you’re applying – to show that you’re enthusiastic about the role, driven to learn, and self-motivated.
Ask yourself what makes you believe that others possess these desired traits and qualities, and emulate those behaviours until it becomes second nature.
And then, if you also have the skills and experience, you should be able to get any job you want.
(Image: Paul Bence, Unsplash.com)