A recent and very extensive survey by Universum, the employer branding firm, (reported in Forbes) surveyed 1,200 of the world’s leading employers to find out exactly what personal qualities today’s big businesses are looking for in candidates. They were asking employers what they were looking for and equally what they were failing to find; so, this survey is a great up-to-the -minute snapshot of what qualities candidates must exhibit to raise the eyebrows of employers and make it through the sift and interview process. So, what were these elusive qualities?
Unsurprisingly, from an overall perspective, 88 percent of employers are valuing ‘cultural fit’ over skills for their next hire. And this is broken down into five star qualities, which are listed below, in order of importance:
- Professionalism (86%)
- High-Energy (78%)
- Confidence (61%)
- Self-Monitoring (58%)
- Intellectual Curiosity (57%)
The Forbes pieces gave a brief perspective on what these qualities were and expanded on the latter two qualities, but I’d like to expand on their work and give a more detailed perspective on these qualities, provide guidance on how candidates can exhibit these qualities, and ensure they are well reflected in their application and interview processes – thereby maximizing their employment prospects in a habitually tough candidate market.
For me, this is all about personal brand management, which means identifying a unique and attractive personal image and ensuring that it is consistently reflected throughout your social: profiles, updates, and commentaries, as well as in your resume and, of course, in your face-to-face personal presentation and behavior. But, the social media brand presentation is crucial because employers will be using this to assess your professionalism before they meet you, which means that the decision about how professional you are may be made long before you get into the interview room.
So, the key tip here is to take a personal and social brand audit and upgrade your brand image. When doing this, bear in mind the findings of the Jobvite 2012 Social Recruiting Survey which reported that recruiters were still finding and being deterred by the negative content on social profiles including: profanities, spelling/grammar mistakes, mentions of: drugs, sex, religion and photos containing alcohol, but were encouraged by profiles with references to volunteering/donating and professional organization.
I think this is a big clue to the directions that social brand images should be moving away from and moving to in order to reflect professionalism.
Employers know that today’s employees need to have plenty of energy and enthusiasm and be resilient to pressures and stress. This may sound obvious, but the tip here is to get work fit. Research from the University of Bristol tells us that employees who exercise regularly are more productive, happier and are less stressed. So join a gym, join a sports club, climb mountains, be active but crucially, make sure this activity is subtly reflected throughout your social profiles and resumes so employers can immediately see you are high energy.
Of course, there’s no magic formula for developing confidence and I certainly can’t explain how to develop it in a paragraph. But, once again, there are plenty of ways that you can exhibit confidence in your social profile, such as by exhibiting thought leadership in your social discussions and updates and not being afraid to hold a justified but unpopular point of view or assertively (not aggressively) engaging in social debates. Once again, reflect any leadership activity that you may be involved in throughout your social profile and your resume. Of course you need to carry this confidence through in person to interview so be sure to exhibit the basic signs of confidence, which are: firm handshakes, good seating and standing posture and holding eye contact during conversation.
This one can most easily be reflected in your social media profile and resume. Make sure they include experiences and achievements where you have been working with minimal direction and guidance, and where you have shown initiative or taken action when facing obstacles, rather than just stalling.
I’ve heard this mentioned a lot by CEOs (meaning definitions vary), but I always like to use the Rogers’ Bell Curve as my example of this trait.
For every new innovation that comes, people adopt it in waves. The five waves are called: 1) Innovators 2) Early Adopters 3) Early Majority 4) Late Majority and 5) Laggards. Whether it’s new ideas, new technologies, new methods or new approaches, today’s top candidates need to be curious Innovators and Early Adopters and at worst, Early Majority. This intellectual curiosity should be reflected throughout your social media profiles, updates and in your resume where you should exhibit an appreciation for learning new technologies, methods, approaches and ways of thinking.