In a recent study, recruiters ranked what they consider to be the most important traits for job applicants.
Like it or not, first impressions matter. A study from the résumé-building website Zety found that 83% of hiring managers call that initial gut feeling they get about a person a critical factor when making hiring decisions. What drives a first impression is your traits.
“Traits are different than skills,” says Zety’s career expert Jacques Buffett. “Skills are what is on your résumé. Hard skills could be a programming language you know, and soft skills include leadership, teamwork, and communication. Personal traits are the qualities that turn up during the interview. It’s the impression you leave through your attitude and how you compose yourself from the second you walk in the door.”
In the Zety study, recruiters ranked what they consider to be the most important traits. Here are the top 10:
In 2020, companies learned that the best laid plans don’t always turn out. As a result, recruiters are looking for candidates who can roll with punches, tackling new problems and opportunities. “There’s so much growth in every business sector,” says Buffett. “Employees need to be able to adapt.”
8. Emotional Intelligence
This trait is particularly important with leaders who need to read others’ emotions to communicate effectively, says Buffett. “To respond appropriately you need to understand the person’s motivations,” he says. “There are plenty of bad bosses out there, and to be good boss you need emotional understanding and compassion. Employees aren’t robots. Teams are made up of unique individuals with unique traits and qualities.”
Recruiters also look for open-mindedness, which can be someone who is willing to try new ways of doing business and new methods of working. “This also feeds into tolerance,” says Buffett. “It’s also being open minded to different cultures, religions, and political backgrounds. You don’t have to agree to be open-minded and tolerant.”
How Employers Identify Traits
First impressions can be valuable, but recruiters will often dig deeper to confirm their instincts. Buffett says many will turn to social media platforms like Facebook, Tik Tok, or YouTube.
“It’s a very common way of finding personal information,” he says. “Recruiters won’t find that information on LinkedIn. If you’re looking for a job, make sure your social profiles are cleaned up.”
Recruiters also rely on behavior tests. The survey found that more than half use psychological profiling techniques to identify candidates’ personality traits.
While social media and personality tests dig deeper, if your first impression isn’t good, a recruiter may not choose to move forward with either. The bottom line for a job seeker is to be mindful of your demeanor from the second you walk in or log into the videoconference. Buffett says phone calls and emails can also help to form that impression.
“Speak to current friends and colleagues to find out what impression people have of you,” he recommends. “Look at the 10 key traits and determine how you can improve on those. How you come across is critical.”