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Published on April 16, 2020

18 Important Personal Attributes That Employers Look For

18 Important Personal Attributes That Employers Look For

Professional skills are important, but make no mistake; it’s personal attributes that dictate whether or not you succeed at work.

Personal attributes are what drive soft skills, which two-thirds of employers say are most in demand.[1] Listening skills are based on curiosity. Punctuality is at the root of whether or not someone consistently shows up for work on time.

Soft skills, not to mention the personal attributes behind them, are much tougher to train than hard skills. Someone can be taught how to code; they can’t necessarily be taught how to be kinder.

So which personal attributes matter most to employers? Eighteen stand out:

1. Honesty

Honesty is the foundation for a high-performing team. If you cannot be trusted to tell the truth, then you certainly can’t be trusted with things like sales and the customer experience.

Furthermore, dishonesty can be contagious: If others on the team see you fibbing, they’re more likely to do so, too.

How to Demonstrate Honesty

Be upfront in your application and interview. Was your college GPA not so stellar? Did you get fired from a previous position? Be honest because employers will find out.

2. Integrity

Related to honesty, this personal attribute is about sticking to your moral principles. Be a good example to others. Never fudge your performance figures, always tell customers the truth, and be a good steward of company money.

How to Demonstrate Integrity

Describe a time when you were tempted to bend the rules for a reward. What discouraged you from doing so? If you did bend the rules, was it for a morally valid reason?

3. Thriftiness

It’s important to make a distinction about this personal attribute: Thriftiness is not the same as cheapness. A cheap person buys candy because it’s on sale; a thrifty person doesn’t buy it at all because she knows she doesn’t need it or she finds a better deal. Employers want to hire people who will find cost-effective ways of doing things for the company.

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How to Demonstrate Thriftiness

Learn as much as you can about ways to save the company money. Understand the terms group purchasing[2], negotiation bargaining[3], and have ideas on how to find cost-effective vendors. You don’t have to come up with all the answers during the interview, but surprise them with your understanding of different options.

4. Responsibility

If you’ve been hired to do a job, and it’s on you to get it done. This is especially true during crises like the coronavirus: Responsibility is critical for a productive remote work culture.[4]

How to Demonstrate Responsibility

Prove that you can handle the small things. If you’re applying for a writing role, for instance, submit the test on time and in good shape. You need to show you’re reliable before you can be considered for a full-time role.

5. Tech-Savvy

Employers want someone who will understand the new world that businesses need to operate in and thrive. Understanding new ways to communicate and organize things can impress an employer.

How to Demonstrate Tech-Savviness

Make scheduling naturally easy for them via email. Use productivity apps to speed up your work efficiency. For example, you can use Mixmax to imbed your schedule into the email discussing the interview. It has a visual feel that you can even personalize. Something like this can make you stand out among other applicants.

6. Empathy

This personal attribute is about being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. No matter your professional role, you have to be able to relate to your team members as people.

How to Demonstrate Empathy

Get in the interviewer’s emotional groove. Express sympathy for a stressful experience s/he shares. Be genuinely happy about something good that happened to them recently.

7. Sociability

Some roles require more sociability than others. Salespeople must be social if they want to stick out in prospects’ minds. But to a degree, this personal attribute is important for everyone at work. Even writers and engineers must be pleasant to be around.

How to Demonstrate Sociability

Be tactful. Add to the conversation without dominating it. Engage people, particularly introverts who may not feel comfortable striking up a conversation themselves.

Here’s an article about networking that can help you socialise better: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

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8. Flexibility

Things change quickly in business. Aside from outbreaks of disease, clients change their mind. Supply lines snap. In situations like those, flexibility is critical.

How to Demonstrate Flexibility

Stay calm in the face of uncertainty. Treat unexpected changes as opportunities rather than reasons for fear. Change up your own schedule periodically: If you typically exercise around lunch time, might working out in the morning make you more productive?

If you need help developing a flexible mindset, this article may be able to help: 4 Ways to Develop a Flexible Mindset

9. Perseverance

Especially during times of change, perseverance is the personal attribute that keeps you going. If you keep working when times are tough, you’re going to struggle in the modern workplace.

How to Demonstrate Perseverance

Tell the interviewer about a time when you were discouraged but pushed on. Afterward, follow up frequently. Show that you won’t give up on the opportunity simply because there are other applicants.

Learn more about How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough.

10. Loyalty

Loyalty is a personal attribute related to perseverance that every employer looks for. Who wouldn’t want a worker who sticks with the company through thick and thin? Often, loyalty is rewarded with raises and promotions.

How to Demonstrate Loyalty

Emphasize long-term commitments you’ve made in the past. One reason most employers prefer college graduates is that it shows you can stick with a degree program for four years.

11. Curiosity

In the knowledge economy, employees have to be lifelong learners. People with curiosity are interested in a wide range of different topics, but they’re also willing to dive deeply into them.

How to Demonstrate Curiosity

Discuss your hobbies, especially if they differ from the work you do. Don’t think of them as irrelevant to the interview; realize that they make you a more interesting, memorable candidate.

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Learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

12. Positivity

Work can’t be sunshine and roses all the time. That’s why positivity is so important. If you get down in the dumps easily, you’ll provoke pessimism from others on the team.

How to Demonstrate Positivity

Don’t fake happiness, but do try to see the silver lining in things. If the interviewer asks about a time you failed, explain what you learned from the experience. And be sure to smile: A cheerful demeanor makes other people want to be around you.

If you’re not a naturally positive person, this article can help you get there: How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

13. Authenticity

Of all the personal attributes on this list, authenticity may be the most difficult to define. It’s about being genuine. What you express has to match how you really feel about a situation.

How to Demonstrate Authenticity

Counterintuitively, the best way to show authenticity is to not try to show it. Just be yourself: If you’re having a great day, let that show. And if you just had a relative pass away, realize that it’s okay to be upset about that.

14. Generosity

Professional life is tough enough without this attribute. Generosity makes the world around you warmer, which everyone appreciates. And if you believe in karma, you believe that generosity will come back to you in all sorts of ways you can’t see.

How to Demonstrate Generosity

Generosity isn’t just about giving gifts — though it never hurts to surprise someone with a treat. Be generous with things like compliments and feedback as well. Even your interviewer deserves to know when s/he’s done a good job.

15. Transparency

Transparency is similar to honesty, but there’s an important wrinkle that distinguishes this personal attribute. Operating with transparency means letting your team members see the good, bad, and the ugly. More than telling the truth, it’s about defaulting to openness.

How to Demonstrate Transparency

Volunteer information. Tell the interviewer how he or she can contact your prior employers. Bring a copy of your college transcript with you to the meeting. Encourage questions, even after you’ve left the building.

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16. Maturity

Misconceptions surround this personal attribute. Maturity isn’t about not making fart jokes; it’s about being sensitive to the reality of a situation. A mature person respects the interviewer’s decision to cancel at the last minute because her kid needs to see the doctor. When there aren’t enough cookies for everyone to have two, a mature person resists the urge to take a second.

How to Demonstrate Maturity

Be thoughtful of others. If your interviewee needs a break, offer to chat in five minutes. If you don’t get the job, don’t trash the company you applied to on Glassdoor.

17. Kindness

Being kind is about having compassion. We all make mistakes, and we all deserve to be given a chance to do better. Bad things happen to good people.

How to Demonstrate Kindness

Avoid passing judgment. If the interviewer is a little late, don’t get irritated about it. Chances are, s/he was simply stuck in traffic — something that has undoubtedly happened to you at some point as well.

18. Diligence

Diligent people do their homework. They not only have attention to detail, but they do the work to get the details right. This personal attribute can show up in everything from how you dress to how you schedule your days.

How to Demonstrate Diligence

Stick to instructions strictly. If the interviewer asks you to bring an example of a small business video ad you created, don’t show one for a big company. Don’t show a radio or digital ad. And bring a backup, just in case the interviewer wants to see a second.

Final Thoughts

Personal attributes can’t make up for shortfalls in professional skills, but you might be surprised how much they matter. Be your best self, and let employers judge you for who you are. More often than not, good people are the ones who get good jobs.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Community College Daily: Employers stress need for soft skills
[2] Una: What is a GPO?
[3] Negotiation Experts: Negotiation Bargaining
[4] Staffing.com: Culture Shock: Corporations and the Need for Remote Work Culture

More by this author

Kimberly Zhang

Kimberly Zhang is the Chief Editor of Under30CEO and has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders to be successful.

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

Goals and dreams are two concepts that are often used interchangeably in the quest for success. Although they can be used to complement one another, they do mean different things. This article looks at what goals and dreams are and how they can be used hand-in-hand in order to achieve personal success.

What Are Goals?

There are different ways to describe what goals are; it can be said that goals are the desired outcomes that you have plans and commitment to achieve. What makes goals spectacular is that the things you want to achieve are clearly defined with a timeframe within which they should be achieved.

Here are some examples of goals:

  • Get certified in analytics in three months
  • Celebrate child’s 5th birthday in Disneyland
  • Attain financial freedom at 50
  • Read and finish at least one book monthly
  • Watch the next Olympic games live

What Are Dreams?

Dreams are thoughts, imaginations, and aspirations that are often about what we desire to attain, experience, or achieve. Dreams can be spontaneous, or they can be desires that we have nursed over a long time. Our dreams are often shaped and influenced by what we see regularly around us, the things we have heard or read about, or the things people we admire are doing.

Here are some examples of dreams:

  • Attend an Ivy League Institution
  • Own a company
  • Be debt-free
  • Be healthy and fit
  • Travel the world

Differences Between Goals and Dreams

There is no need to confuse goals and dreams when you know their differences[1] and how they can work together to facilitate success. The following are some useful insights about goals and dreams.

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Thoughts and Imagination Vs. Plans and Action

In order to have a dream, you need to engage your thoughts and imagination. This means thinking deeply about what you want to achieve, where you want to go, and to what extent you want to achieve those things. For dreams, everything ends in the realm of imagination if nothing is done thereafter.

Unlike dreams, goals require a commitment towards achieving the desired end. This includes deciding the size of the goals, planning the order of events that will lead to achieving them, and the timeline within which they should be achieved.

Spontaneity Vs. Thoughtfulness

You can have a dream anytime, anyhow, and without any form of preparation or formality. This is not the same with goals. Goals must be set thoughtfully, and conscientiously. They must be clearly written down and should be S.M.A.R.T.

Dreams Come Before Goals

It would be right to say that there is no goal without a dream. Dreams must come first because dreams give birth to goals. You must have a desire and nurture it in your mind until it becomes a burning desire that you are ready to pursue. That is when they can be turned to goals.

Captured Dreams Become Goals

There can be dreams without goals. Dreams can go on and on and end only in fantasy. However, when they are captured, they can become actionable goals that can, indeed, materialize.

There is a Yoruba proverb that can be translated thus: “S/he who finds money in the dream and gets excited should be told to focus on working hard so as not to become a victim of poverty.” While the proverb is primarily about night dreams, it can apply to imaginative dreaming, too.

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To realize your dream, it must be captured and turned into goals; then, you will have to create a goals strategy and follow it up with hardwork.

Goals Require Steps

Goals are the steps you set out to take after you are convinced that your dream is truly worth it. These steps will outline what you should do and how you should do them to attain your dream.

Dreams Are Free, but Goals Come With a Price

Dreams come without costs. You can dream as many times as you want in a day without restriction. However, goals are not like that. You have to think about whether your goals are achievable or not when setting them. Because of the costs (sacrifices) associated with getting your goals done, it places a limit on which goals you can set per time.

Lack of Limits Vs. Defined Objectives

There are no structures to dreams, neither are there limits to how far you can dream. But goals have to be framed. They must be clearly defined with measurable objectives and a timeline.

Inspiration Vs. Creating Change

You can dream to inspire yourself and aspire to a greater future, but if you want to experience real change, you have to be specific about what you want and how you want to get there. Goals are the commitments made towards creating change.

How to Turn Your Dreams Into Actionable Goals

To help you take your dreams to the next level, follow these tips and create actionable goals.

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1. Make Your Dream Clear and Solid

Before your dream can become ripe enough to be turned into an actionable goal, you have to be clear about what you really want. Your dream has to go from imagination to reality. Here are some things that can be done to make your dreams clear.[2]

Take Inspiration From Success Stories

Read inspiring stories of successful people to think through your own dreams. Such stories will help you to put your dreams in the proper perspective.

Envision Your Future

Engage the power of vision in picturing your own future. Let your mind be in tune with what you desire for yourself. It is a known truth that you are always drawn towards the pictures you have in your mind.

Think About Your Dream

The mind is very powerful, and it has the ability to create imaginary concepts that can be turned into reality. Most of the edifices you can see existed first in the realm of the mind.

See the Big Picture

Dreams are free, so think big. See the bigger picture of your dream, the highest possible level you think you can attain.

Write Down Your Dream

Capture your dreams by writing them down. This will make them clearer. You don’t have to be economical while writing them down. Just write them the way they occur to you.

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2. Break Your Dream Into Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

You might not be able to pursue your dream in its raw state, and that is why goals are needed. You should have a plan and structure for achieving your dream, and this will include setting both short-term and long-term goals that will get you on the path of your dream.

Short-term goals are goals that you set to achieve from now up to 3 months or in less than a year. Long-term goals are goals that can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to achieve. Your short-term goals are actually your stepping stones towards achieving the long-term goals and ultimately leading you to your dream.

3. Make the Goals SMART

What makes a goal statement differ from a dream statement is that goals should be S.M.A.R.T when framing them. This means that each of the goals you set towards achieving your dream must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.

For more on S.M.A.R.T goals, check out this article.

4. Break Each Goal Into Milestones

Beyond creating goals that are SMART, you should also break each goal into milestones. Milestones are small steps (miniature goals) that can be achieved within a very short time. When you achieve these smaller goals, it keeps you motivated to keep getting closer to your big dream without feeling overwhelmed. You can keep your eyes on the big dream while focusing on the milestones.

Final Thoughts

Anyone can have dreams to create a picture of their own future. If you are not satisfied with your current state, all you have to do is dream. If you have achieved your dreams, then it’s time to dream again or inspire others to dream.

You can achieve anything that your mind can conceive if you take the time to turn them into goals. Make your dreams big, but set smaller goals to move progressively towards the realization of your big dream.

More Tips on Using Dreams to Achieve Success

Featured photo credit: Yukie Emiko via unsplash.com

Reference

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