Whether you're looking for a new job this year, aiming to get a raise or promotion – or are worried about just hanging on to your present employment – you need to demonstrate that you have some or all of the qualities and characteristics employers are seeking.
Most people make some type of career-related resolutions at the start of the year without paying much attention to the qualities employers are looking for and ways they can differentiate themselves from job-seekers and co-workers, according to OI Partners, a leading global coaching and leadership development/consulting firm.
"Career-related resolutions tend to focus on what employees and job-seekers want, rather than the skills that employers are demanding today," said Patty Prosser, chair of OI Partners. "People will be more successful in their jobs and job searches by validating that they are the best fit."
OI Partners surveyed its career consultants on which characteristics and qualities are most in demand by employers in 2013 and how you can stand out from others.
1. What have you learned lately? "Employers are seeking workers who have made a commitment to continuous learning. Companies want to hire and have on board employees who have tomorrow's knowledge today. Learning can include courses you are taking and degrees you are pursuing, participating in webinars, attending technology expos and trade shows and online software courses. Relate what you are learning to how this can make you a better employee or a great hire," said Prosser.
2. Value proposition to employer. Companies want to know how, specifically, can you or are you adding value to them. Be sure you have adapted your message to your employer or the company you are targeting regarding your value by tying it into the current goals and mission of the organization. "Too many people keep ‘selling' their skills to employers in an outdated framework. Be sure your value is considered current and relevant to the employer," said Prosser.
3. Outstanding communications skills: Employers are becoming more dissatisfied with the communications skills of their employees and job candidates and are placing a higher priority on both written and verbal skills. "With Tweets, texts, blogs, and PowerPoint proliferating, fewer employees and job applicants are good writers. Some employers are amazed that employees cannot write a coherent report or even a complete sentence. Don't only sharpen your presentation skills, but improve your writing, too," said Prosser.
4. Teamwork. Being a team player is the number one quality employers said they are looking for in applicants and workers in an OI Partners survey. With work forces still lean, 7 out of 10 employers said being able to accomplish goals with others is the most important quality they desire. "It is key that you be viewed as a collaborative problem solver, so be sure to volunteer to be part of cross-functional task forces," said Prosser.
5. Excitement and enthusiasm. Companies want people who are enthusiastic and excited about working with them and doing their jobs. "Be able to articulate what about the company's product or service inspires you and how you can demonstrate that in your daily work," said Prosser.
6. Flexibility. When discussing the goals for the coming year with your manager, look for opportunities for cross-training to provide coverage in your department during vacation, sick leaves, etc. Employers appreciate workers who keep focused on meeting the organization's goals, especially when resources are stretched.
7. Anticipate. Being able to anticipate possible needs or problems is highly valued. "Companies reward people who see that there will be a resource gap, bring it to management's attention and propose some possible solutions. If you are interviewing for a position, share a story about a time that you did this in your career or explain how you would do this if hired," said Prosser.
8. Persuasiveness. Ability to win over others, including customers and colleagues, is in demand. Persuasive employees know how to craft their messages to meet others' needs and, at the same time, accomplish their objectives. Since most work today is accomplished by obtaining information and support from peers in other departments, the ability to influence and persuade is a critical skill.
9. Leadership. With most companies developing their future leaders from within their organizations, rather than recruiting from outside, they are looking for workers with high leadership potential. "Future leaders are those who take initiative, don't take 'no' for an answer, and find ways to be positive even in challenging situations. Management wants to hear potential leaders say how things can be done, and how problems can be solved, not why things won't work," said Prosser.
10. Authentic. While it is important to adapt to an organization's culture, it is also essential to demonstrate who you are and what makes you unique as a person and employee. Be clear about what your special talents, skills, and contributions are and how you believe those things make you more effective.