10 Personal Qualities and Skills Employers Look for

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Soft skills are more important than hard skills during the job hunt where EQ - emotional intelligence - is valued more by employers than IQ. When it comes down to searching for a job and workplace success, your attitude and personality traits take a central role because this defines the kind of relationship you are going to have with other people whether it is your next employer, colleagues, manager or clients.

So, apart from the basic professional skills that you need to possess - communication, teamwork, decision making and organisation - there are some other more specific personal attributes that you have to develop to have a successful career. This article provides a list of qualities you every employer loves.

Let’s go through it.

1. Stress Tolerance

The ability to manage stress effectively is central to workplace success and employers are always in favour of people who can handle any demand and work well under pressure. Keeping the emotions that come from stress under control e.g. frustration/irritation, worry/nervousness, anger, disappointment and unhappiness, is vital if you want to avoid uncomfortable situations and conflict.

Don’t forget that negativity, stress and frustration are contagious and cannot only ruin work performance but also tear the whole team apart. If you want to maintain good relationships with others and stay productive, you need to learn how to keep your stress levels low.

Maintaining peace and harmony in the workplace will require some effort and this should start with you. MindTools proposes some useful ways to help you deal with these emotions whenever they arise:

Frustration/Irritation – every time you feel this way you need to take a step back, ask yourself why this happens, and look for the problem at its core. Take a deep breath, relax and find something positive about the situation. The goal here is to not let anything annoy you more than it should. If something happens and you don’t like it, learn to accept it quickly and move on. This is the attitude to success.

Worry/Nervousness – everybody feels worried and nervous at times, but you need to try to get rid of that feeling whenever you sense it coming. Avoiding people and rejecting behaviours that make you feel like that can only help you achieve this. Writing your worries down in a notebook also helps to get unwanted thoughts out of your mind.

Anger/Aggravation – the most effective way to deal with anger is to recognise the signs before they begin. Once you do this, it will become easier for you to stop there and avoid the consequences – whatever these may be. Also, it might help if you picture yourself angry because nobody likes it when they get mad, red-faced and out of control.

Disappointment/Unhappiness – it’s easy to get disappointed when things don’t work out as planned, but don’t forget that in life, some events will inevitably turn out the way you don’t want them to. When this happens, you need to remind yourself that you are only human and you can’t control everything. The only solution to disappointment and unhappiness is setting new goals and looking forward.

Improve your stress management through an online course

2. Integrity

Having integrity means being reliable and accountable for the actions that you take. According to Marcel Schwantes, integrity translates to ‘doing the right thing even when no one is looking, and especially when the choice isn’t easy’. This quality is important in the workplace for three main reasons a) self-confidence – doing what’s right to you and not questioning yourself, b) gaining the trust and respect of others and c) becoming a good leader. Honesty and professionalism are important components of integrity, and if you are being considerate to others, you can learn how to develop this at work.  

If you want to check where you are at regarding integrity, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you leave work early when there is no possibility anyone else will find out?
  • Do you accept full responsibility (or your share) when things don’t go well?
  • Do you share the credit when things go right?
  • Do you confront wrongdoing even if it means facing a supervisor?

Checking yourself every step of the way can help you stay professional in everything you do and making sure that you are on good terms with your employer.

3. Independence

Nobody likes being told what to do all the time and some degree of independence is always needed in any work environment. But, being independent doesn’t mean doing whatever comes to mind. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.

Being independent means being able to take care of your needs while taking responsibility for your own decisions and paying attention to the people around you and your environment. When you learn how to work independently you have the freedom to explore your skills and talents and employers want to see more of what you are capable of doing.

4. Diversity Sensitivity

You might not think of diversity as an important issue, but in today’s workplace, cultural sensitivity and the ability to build rapport with other people in a multicultural work environment is highly valued by employers. Diversity which encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, education, background and more, has become a central point of discussion especially in business settings, where companies have started recruiting people from different cultural backgrounds. Showing respect, treating others equally, being flexible and coming up with constructive ways to work through the cultural barriers of communication or any conflicts that may arise are key elements to success.

You can easily show employers that you possess this skill on your CV through volunteering, listing any field trips, or projects you participated in or any university work that involved working closely with people coming from different backgrounds.

Learn more about diversity and inclusion through an online course here


5. Drive/Self-motivation

Self-motivation is one of the most important qualities that reinforces continuous learning and success, helps you realise your goals and facilitates progress.

Without drive or motivation it’s impossible to find what you are looking for in your career – let alone succeed in it. Employers value motivation and want to have employees who enjoy working at their company. Since you don’t want to end up in a dead-end job or one that you hate, it’s important to keep yourself happy and productive.

Improve your self-motivation through an online mindshift course here

6. Initiative

No employer or manager wants to have to tell you what to do all the time – they are busy people too. Their responsibility is to teach you the basics and the unwritten rules of the company culture. But, from that point on you don’t have to rely on them for every decision you make.

Taking initiative means coming up with creative solutions on your own, testing them out and finding out what works and what doesn’t. This is all about trusting your instinct and not being afraid to make mistakes. If you have ever been a volunteer, you must have an idea of what taking initiative means.

7. Self-awareness

Getting to know yourself is the first step to identifying your life’s purpose. This is the reason many career experts encourage students to take a psychometric test. Such tests and more specifically personality tests, can tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are, where your talents and ambitions lie and can help you make a well-informed decision about your career.

Becoming more self-aware is crucial because if you can’t recognise your own strengths, neither can employers. Self-awareness goes hand in hand with emotional intelligence, a quality that as recent research shows is essential in the modern workplace.

8. Confidence

Everything starts with confidence, and if you want to make others believe in you, you first need to believe in yourself. This applies to every job interview you go to, presentation you deliver, meeting you participate in and project you are lead. Confidence is all about knowing what you are good at and recognising the value you provide in any circumstance. Not only that but confidence inspires trust, loyalty and on an individual level, it can help you cope with stress.

If you think you lack confidence there are a couple of things you can do. Most people start paying attention to all the things they don’t like about themselves, so they join the gym, improve their wardrobe, practice power poses and work on their body language to make sure they look smart and professional. Building on confidence is easy; all you need is patience and persistence.

9. Persuasion

Whether you are trying to impress employers or want to work in a career where persuasion is essential, you will need to possess excellent communication and negotiation skills. Persuasion often refers to the ability to influence other people, make them believe in your ideas, encourage them to see what you are seeing and feel what you are feeling.  

Believing in your abilities and being emotionally intelligent is a prerequisite to becoming an effective persuader. But, you have to understand that persuading isn’t manipulating. Kurt Mortensen, one of America’s leading authorities on persuasion, negotiation and influence, says that successful persuaders often share some common characteristics that help them bond with other people emotionally. They keep promises, are reliable, sincere, genuine, appear to know their subject well and support their arguments fiercely.

10. Creativity

Without creativity, there can be no innovation. Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties and embracing change. This is all about inventing, growing, taking risks, breaking the rules, making mistakes and having fun while you are at it.

Enrol in an online creative thinking course here

The modern workplace needs creativity because it provides the opportunity to experiment with different approaches, products and services – if needs be. It allows you to question assumptions, be curious about how things work and investigate issues in more depth. Employees who have no original ideas have nothing to offer to employers.

While going over this list, one thing is for certain; if you want to make the best of your life and career, you need to constantly challenge yourself. Don’t forget that nothing good comes without any effort, and if you want to become an expert at what you do, you have to try your best to conquer these qualities.

Which ones do you think you have conquered so far? Let us know in the comments section below…