You’ve been tending to your career, step by step: paying dues, developing skills, building a track record. Now you’re ready to take that next step. You think you have what it takes.
Perfectly-groomed resume? Check. Impressive references? Check. Killer cover letter? Check.
Taking care of these basics will help you to score the interview. But once you’re in the door, what do you want to project? What will your interviewer be looking for?
Knowing what “career qualities” employers value—and learning to cultivate and project these qualities—will help you ace the interview. It will help you know how to answer those “tell me about a time when you …” open-ended questions interviewers ask. If you know what personal qualities they are looking for, you will know which stories to tell about yourself.
Karen Kaplan, President and CEO of the mega advertising agency Hill Holliday says she is looking for three things: curiosity, openness and collaborative ability. “We look for people who constantly ask why and why not,” she wrote in a recent blog post. “Curious people are inspired more by what they don’t know than what they do know.”
Openness—a quality other employees may refer to as adaptability, flexibility, willingness to learn or comfort with uncertainty—is another prized quality. “Our business changes every single day,” writes Kaplan. “The only way to succeed is to be open to change and to embrace it.”
Collaborative skills include the ability to give and receive feedback, share credit for success, accept and acknowledge others’ contributions, negotiate to find the win-win and seek assistance when needed. “I’m always looking for people who don’t want to work in silos or build fiefdoms,” says Kaplan. “[People] who understand that a team of people from diverse backgrounds working together will always produce better work.”
Fearlessness—also known as risk-taking—is another quality seen as desirable in employees today. “You can hear the reverence in CEOs’ voices for people who have it,” writes Adam Bryant, who interviewed 70 CEOs to write his book The Corner Office. “They really value people who are willing to take risk — as long as they’re doing it in the best interest of the company, not just to make a name for themselves.”
Self-direction and initiative. The willingness to do more than is asked, to work hard and exceed expectations, and to pursue a goal and stay on track without constant oversight is valuable to employers because they know that people who possess this trait will add value to their company. Demonstrate energy; tell a story about a time you went above and beyond and did something unexpected.
Think about whether you possess the above qualities, and how you might demonstrate them in the context of an interview. Then cultivate them. It’s the first step to making yourself indispensable—and ensuring a lifetime of great opportunities.
Put your best foot forward, and find the opportunities you deserve. Professional Staffing Group can help. Contact us today.