What Employers Want

These are the three qualities that are on the top of every employers list (even though they may not know it):

  • Initiative
  • Resourcefulness
  • Passion

This semester I took ART 383 – a service learning internship class that was recently visited by Rob Sullivan, (Author, Career Coach, Inspirational Speaker).  Before he started talking, I didn’t know what to expect, except that it was a Wednesday night and I probably would have preferred to be home having dinner.  Within minutes of beginning speaking, Rob had captured the interest of the entire group; everyone was hanging on to his every word and some were even taking notes!

Anyone who is in transition, college students and career changers alike, knows that navigating the job market is a daunting task.  Rob had good tips about how to make the best impression possible just by answering questions differently and changing the content of your cover letter.  He told us that employers are looking for “initiative, resourcefulness and passion” because these are things that cannot be taught to someone.  You either have it or you don’t and many people who do, are unable to express these qualities to their prospective employers.

It is difficult to summarize all of the points that Rob made, I would suggest hearing him speak in person for the full effect, but these were the points that resonated with me:

1.  The “Tell me about yourself…” Question: You need to tell a good (true) story that immediately demonstrates how you have the characteristics of taking initiative, being resourceful, and having passion.  Ask yourself these questions:

– What have you done on your own to prepare for the university you want to attend or the career you want to start?

-How have you shown resourcefulness?  It is important to quantify you accomplishments, to show how you might have saved a company time, money, etc.

-What are you passionate about?  Why have you chosen this path in life over thousands of others?

While keeping those questions in mind, its good to formulate a short story that sets you apart from everyone else who says ‘I grew up in this town, went to this college, majored in this subject, and here I am applying for this job.”

2.  The “What is your greatest weakness?” Question:

I blushed when Rob immediately said to avoid saying “I’m a perfectionist,” or “I work too much,” which might have been my go-to answers for this uncomfortable question. When employers ask this question, it’s probably because they don’t know how to properly interview someone.  This was his suggestion for how to answer it:  Think about the impression you give off to people you don’t know very well, that might not have the best impression of you, what might they identify as a flaw or weakness?

I personally have been told a few times that I can come off as cold or unfriendly to people, when that was not my intention.  If I was answering this question I would say, “Sometimes I have been told that I come off as a little cold when I first meet people.  However, now that I am aware of this, I try harder to smile more when I first meet someone and look for ways that we can connect and engage each other.”  Always end with what you are doing to fix this “problem,” so your  answer ends on a positive note.

3.  The “Do you have any questions for us?” Question:

Do not ask factual questions.  Do your homework before, and know something about the company.  Instead ask opinion questions that are relevant to that company or field.  Rob also suggested asking ‘What is one thing you would want everyone to know about this company that few people know?”

4.  N-E-O-N, use these four elements when writing a cover letter or interviewing:

N-  Where are you now?

E- Why are you excited or energized and what about? (Passion)

O- What is your objective/why do you want the job?

N- Why is this the next logical step?

Navigating the job market is a difficult endeavor.  Best of luck!

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One Response to What Employers Want

  1. Pingback: What Employers Want « Il Dolce Far Niente

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