What employers seek from job seekers

Business Coach Column by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) from the Manila Bulletin

Q: Hi, I’ve been looking for a job for nearly half a year now. I graduated from college almost two years ago.

Since then, I did six months of training at a call center, but was not offered a final contract. I did not think of asking what had gone wrong during my exit interview, though.

Now that I have been looking for a job, I have followed the advice in the Classifieds about writing a good resume, preparing for the interview, and how to look for a job, etc. But I still can’t seem to get a job offer, even though I was called three times already for interviews.

Can you tell me what employers want from jobseekers? (Allize D., via email)

I have been in business for more than twenty years. I have interviewed and hired hundreds of jobseekers for positions ranging from managerial to clerical.

Sometimes, just reading an applicant’s résumé makes me eager to schedule an interview with her/him immediately. It makes me impatient to meet the person so that I could hire her/him on the spot before some other company does.

But do you know what gets employers excited to hire applicants? Besides experience and education, there are other skills and values that employers look for in their potential employees. You must know how to emphasize these in your application form as well as during your interview.

Beyond the technical skills essential to perform a particular job, there are other skills generally sought by employers. You must identify these skills and try to highlight them in your résumé or cover letter.

Good English Communication Skills. Most employers prefer jobseekers who can write and speak well in English. Even in technical fields, such qualifications are considered assets to the company. Good communication can effectively minimize misunderstandings, errors, and conflicts in different work situations.

Computer Literacy. Nowadays almost all businesses make use of computers. Regardless of your profession you are expected to at least be able to use the standard office programs. You must know how to use a word processing program, have a basic understanding of spreadsheets, and know how to send and receive email.

Multitasking Ability. Aside from your usual work expertise, employers will appreciate if you have other talents. Due to the recession, most companies have cut down on their employees or in hiring. During this time, companies prefer to hire staffs that are not rigidly confined to their work description. This is an extra responsibility, yet if you are willing to be assigned additional work, you increase your chances in the employment market.

Loyalty. Employers seek loyal and dedicated employees. They will scrutinize your length of stay at your previous employment. Going through five companies in five years will harm your chances except in high turnover industries like call centers. Also, they will evaluate how you look up to your previous managers or co-workers. Bad mouthing your old boss will almost certainly earn a rejection.

Self-Confidence. While it is but natural to be a little nervous, try to project confidence while not appearing arrogant. A common manifestation of the problem of the lack of self-confidence is not being able to look at your interviewer. This may even be misinterpreted as a sign of dishonesty. If you do not have confidence in your abilities neither will anybody else.

Team player. Employers like it when employees are able to work as part of a team. They expect employees to get along well with the other workers. It is important for them that everybody works cooperatively with others.

I know of a case wherein an applicant aced the tests but during lunchtime, he ate alone in a corner while his fellow applicants had their meal together. This was observed by management and he was automatically rejected due to what was perceived as poor socialization skills.

Leadership Skills. For those who recently graduated, this can be seen in your extracurricular activities, especially if you were an officer in one or more of your school organizations.

In applicants who have been working for a long time, this can be seen in the previous job positions and responsibilities s/he undertook. The higher the position, the more important the leaderships skills.

Self-improvement efforts. Besides formal education, taking short courses may give you an edge as long as they are relevant to the position sought. Attending seminars and workshops to update your knowledge sends a strong message that you have a strong interest in improving your expertise.

Knowing the skills most employers want from a jobseeker increases chances of getting employed. If you already possess some or all of the qualifications listed above, it does not follow that you have to be complacent. Devote time to improving your skills, and know how to highlight them to your advantage during your job search.

(All rights reserved. Copyright by Manila Bulletin and Ruben P. Anlacan, Jr. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)


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