Posted by Robert Half on 11 September 2014
There's no magic formula to guarantee you'll be offered a job every time you apply online, but there are certainly ways you can increase your chances of success by understanding what employers look for when hiring. While every organisation is different, and each advertised role unique, hiring managers tend to be looking for the same sort of skills and qualities. Yes, they may give more weight to certain characteristics depending on the industry or nature of the job, but everyone is playing a similar game. Employers simply want to employ the best person they can afford, given the constraints imposed by their recruitment budget.
So whenever you apply for a new role, you can expect your skill-set, performance record, character and motivation to be closely scrutinised. These factors - along with your level of experience, performance at interview and remuneration demands - will determine whether or not you succeed. As an ambitious candidate, looking for your next big opportunity, your task is to make the best possible impression across all areas. You need to play up your strengths when answering interview questions, explaining what you can do that other applicants can't, while seeking to improve upon your weaker areas.
Understanding what employers look for in job candidates, and who exactly they are hoping to hire, increases your likelihood of success. It ensures you apply for roles that are suited to your ability and expertise, and increases the chances you'll make a great impression in the interview room. So with this in mind, here are some of the qualities employers typically look for in a new hire:
Employers are eager to employ people who have natural talent - core skills aligned with a creative, innovative mind, underpinned by a vision for the future. They want people who can do the things others can't - those who can improve systems and processes and drive their business forwards. If employees have the capacity to 'think outside the box' and come up with new designs, concepts or techniques, they are sure to be in demand.
Talented recruits - however raw - can be moulded to fit in with an organisation's way of working, and adopt its culture and values. Employers will be willing to invest time and effort on the education and training of high-potential individuals, knowing what they can bring to the organisation in the future.
Knowing what employers look for will improve you chances of success in an interview. Employers are looking for professionals who have strong motivation and ambition, and clear goals for their career. These individuals are likely to work hard and add value to the organisation, with some progressing into leadership and management roles.
Professional experience is always important and even entry-level roles are looking for some volunteer or in-kind experience. In an ideal world, employers want people who can hit the ground running in their job and use the industry knowledge and contacts they have acquired in previous roles. They hope this experience can be used to add value to teams, both in terms of boosting productivity and assisting with employee development.
Individuals who have niche skills are always in hot demand. Because relatively few people have their specialism, organisations are often willing to pay a premium to attract and retain them. Employing someone with rare expertise can help organisations steal a march on their rivals.
Employers want to know the information you have provided in your CV, cover letter and interview accurately reflects your performance record and potential. They'll also be eager to establish that previous employers hold you in high esteem. This means it's important to work hard to earn yourself a positive industry reputation.
Individuals who have a sound understanding of the mechanics of business - and the ability to offer strategic insight to decision makers - are always valuable to organisation. Commercial brains are needed in every business, regardless of size or sector.
If you have a difficulty articulating yourself, or can't communicate under pressure, you aren't going to thrive in the interview scenario. Unconfident speakers may be considered too much of a risk to employ - what happens when they have to deliver crucial information to colleagues, or lead a meeting with a key client?
Technology skills are becoming ever-more important in business. At the very least, job candidates are expected to be computer-literate, and capable of working with common software packages and online tools. Candidates who have IT qualifications or certification may find themselves at an advantage, given the increasing weight placed on such skills.
Organisations may be after hungry go-getters, but they also want honest, decent people who will be a good fit for their teams. They want individuals who will earn the trust and respect of their colleagues, and be a positive presence in the office. Applicants who can prove their credentials as a team player will always be considered a good bet.
First and foremost, the hiring manager will be looking to select someone who will turn up to work every day and perform the tasks expected of them to the required level. Additionally, they want to recruit people who are loyal to their employers, rather than 'job hoppers' who will be looking for the exit door after a few months.
Value for money
Organisations do not have unlimited budgets for recruitment. So if you're asking for twice as much money as the other candidates, it could scupper your chances of being selected. It's important for candidates to understand what employers look for, so know your own worth beforehand - check the Robert Half Salary Guides if you're unsure. Apply for roles which offer the level of remuneration you would expect, based upon your skills and experience.