As someone who's done her share of hiring and, regrettably, firing people over the years, I want to share some of the top traits I look for, and how you can bring them to the attention of prospective employers.
Employers hire people because they have needs to meet, challenges to address and opportunities to seize. The specifics of these needs, challenges and opportunities will vary from position to position and business to business, but there's one need which cuts across them all: employers want people with good work habits.
What follows are some of my favorite work habits, with ideas on how you can bring them to light:
Reliability: I want to work with people who actually do what they say they'll do. I mean, really, who doesn't? The thing is, just saying you're reliable won't cut it. What you need is evidence you can put in your resume which proves you have this trait, such as meeting deadlines or meeting or exceeding department goals. Better yet, try to establish that you have a pattern of being the one people can count on. Then, draw attention to your demonstrable pattern of being dependable.
Gray Matter: You don't have to be a rocket scientist for every job. In fact, you probably wouldn't want a rocket scientist for every job. I've known many renowned theoretical physicists who can probe the mysteries of the universe, but who you would not want handling power tools. Canny job hunters show they have the training and expertise for the jobs they seek. This isn't always easy to capture in bullet points. Use your cover letter to showcase your problem-solving style, the knowledge upon which it's based and how you can apply it to meet this organization's challenges.
Standards: How do you feel when a painter or shoe repairperson says to you, "I had a problem with this job and I'm not satisfied with it, so I'm going to charge you less?" As far as I'm concerned that craftsperson has just earned a new long-time client. People who take pride in their work are the best people to do business with, and they're also the sort of people employers love to hire. They hold themselves to high standards, and are committed to delivering work which meets those standards. Who wouldn't snap 'em up? How can you show you have high standards? Awards and prizes are one way. Demonstrating a consistent pattern of achievement, such as meeting goals every quarter or not missing a day of work, can also help. So can membership and activity in professional associations.
These are just three of my favored work habits. I'll be back soon with more, but in the meanwhile, what are some of yours?