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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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Published on October 19, 2020

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

As a performance coach and expert in the psychology of productivity for over 25 years, I have used every tool in the book to teach people how to achieve their goals by breaking through their barriers, getting out of their heads, and getting into their productive flow.

Here are my favorite tools and techniques to keep you on the path towards achieving your goals and dreams.

1. Accountability

Your word is your wand. It’s the source of your power. What you say, what you commit to, and what you follow through on creates confidence in your own ability to create what you want in the world.

However, every time you go back on what you said you were going to do, it weakens your inner power. Your subconscious mind keeps track of what you promise. It records each time you don’t follow through with your commitments and unconsciously reduces your power to create. Keep your word and keep your power!

2. Time Excuse Diet

The fastest way to achieve your goals is to stop using time as an excuse for why you’re not getting things done. Stop seeing time as your enemy, and start seeing time as your most valuable ally. Picture yourself as the source of time, and decide where you want to use it and where not to.

3. Gratitude

The attitude of gratitude changes everything. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we connect to the most important things in our life, which floods our system with positive chemicals and releases joy, euphoria, and excitement.

Start by making a list of the things and people you are most grateful for in this moment. Every morning, list the 5 things you are grateful for that day.

4. 1% Improvement

To maintain momentum and motivation, focus on getting 1% better per day. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic goals. Let go of perfection and focus on progress. Anyone can improve by 1%. After a month, you’ll be 30% better. After 3 months you will be 100% better without nearly as much effort as you think.

5. Nature Breaks

When you take a break, look around you. If you don’t see any plants, trees, or blue sky, then you need to get outside. Being in nature naturally resets your mental state to a state of natural wellbeing.

Wayne Dyer famously said, “there’s nothing to do in nature. Nature will do you.” Take 5-10 minutes to be in nature with no expectations, and you will feel the results immediately.

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6. Music

Songs and sounds that motivate you have been shown to increase your brain’s ability to learn, be creative, and be motivated. This is especially true of classical music.

Put music on during mundane tasks to help you get through the day. Relaxing music in the evening can help you rest and recover better. Meditation music can help you reach deeper levels of focus and calm. In short, a bit of pleasant music can make nearly any situation better and more productive.

7. Hypnosis

Subconscious suggestion while in a relaxed state is the fastest way to program your mind for what you truly want. The subconscious mind is the hard drive of everything we do. A good way to start self-hypnosis is to close your eyes in a comfortable seated position, take a few deep breaths, and then put on audio conditioning or hypnosis audio.

8. Relational Communication

When having trouble communicating, remember this: the meaning of communication is the response you get.

When you’re communicating something important, pay attention to the way the other person responds. If they’re not responding the way you expected, it’s your responsibility to continue the communication cycle until they understand it the way you intended. Don’t make the other person responsible for how they’ll understand your message.

9. Laughter

Creating laughter in difficult situations stops us from immediately going into worry, doubt, and fear. Laughter is like the jamming system of our mental radar that gives us space to observe and learn from our situation.

When encountering a problem or difficulty, repeat out loud to yourself, “I laugh at this current situation. I can laugh at how bad this is.” Get your brain focused on laughter and amusement. It prevents the mental dominoes from falling down the wrong path by putting your mind into a state of curiosity so it becomes open to learning from the situation.

10. Time Blocking

If it’s important, you need to calendar it. Make sure you block out time for what’s most important in your day. This ensures at the end of the day that the essential things are done and distractions don’t rule your world. I use Outlook to organize my calendar appointments and Calendly to make it easier for people to book themselves on my calendar.

Find out more about time blocking: Time Blocking for Productivity (A Complete Guide)

11. Power Naps

One of my favorite strategies for achieving your goals fast is taking a nap. Research shows that people who take naps are more productive. A regular nap for 20 minutes per day can increase your performance and productivity by 10-30%.

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A great way to ensure a good power nap is by using an eye mask with noise-canceling headphones. For an extra boost, drink a cup of coffee just before you begin your nap. It sounds counterintuitive, but it takes the caffeine about 20 minutes to kick in and it will help you wake up feeling extra energetic.

Learn more about power nap: How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

12. 4-7-8 Breathing

When you’re stressed out or redlining in your day, this ancient Vedic breathing technique will instantly calm your last nerves. Start by inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth making a whoosh sound for 8 seconds. A quick 3 rounds of this technique will bring you down from even the most stressful situations in your day so you can get back to being productive.

13. Circle of Excellence

Here’s a quick way to shift yourself into a high-performance mindset: think about a time when you felt super confident and unstoppable. Re-live that memory. Place that memory in an imaginary circle in front of you on the floor. Once it’s there, step into the circle and the memory.

Imagine yourself being transported back to it, feeling it come in through your toes all the way to the top of your head, and imagine yourself looking through your own eyes as if you are inside of that memory now. Seeing what you’re seeing, hearing what you’re hearing, and feeling what your feeling, be in the memory now. Feel the motivation and confidence rise in your body. Activate that positive feeling in this very moment.

14. Be of Service

Helping others is one of the most relevant things we can do today to be happier, more grateful, and more motivated. Giving to others is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves psychologically. It releases a huge amount of positive chemicals and hormones that make us feel great. It also helps us put life in perspective. The happiest and most productive people are those who feel they are being of service.

15. Visualization

This is one of my favorite tools to help you create your ideal future. Take a few minutes to visualize how you want your life to be. This will help you get there much faster.

Studies with athletes have shown clearly that the more you practice any action in your mind, the quicker it becomes a reality. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between visualization and doing the actual thing. This might be the most powerful free technique of all time, so use it as often as possible!

Start trying these 13 Visualization Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals.

16. Head-Heart-Body

This exercise is the fastest way to check your mind, emotion, and physical well-being. It is a lot like checking the gauges on your car. The technique is simple—close your eyes, focus on your head, and notice what thoughts you’re having.

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Take a deep breath. Focus on your heart. Notice what mood or emotion you’re having. Take another breath. Focus on your diaphragm. Notice the sensations in your physical body. Take one more deep breath and ask the question, “What am I needing right now?” Write down the answer your mind gives you. This is a great technique to use midday or right before important decisions or activities.

17. Technology Time-Out

In our 24/7 hyper-connected world, we are constantly connected to our devices. This “always-on” lifestyle is hard on our bodies and mind. Putting your devices down a few times a day can help you reset and recharge. Take a few 10-minute “technology time-outs” each day and see how much better you feel by the end of the day.

18. Timefulness

Be “timeful” by being mindful of your relationship with time and being intentional with how you use your time. Stop blaming time and start using it. Put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life by knowing that you are 100% in control of your time—you are the source of time.

19. Time Frame Exercise

Changing the time frame in which you view a situation alters the way your brain views the content, often changing it from potentially negative to positive. It can be easy to get overwhelmed when you are focusing all your energy on this moment in time. If you take a moment to close your eyes and expand your time view from this moment into the future, it instantly changes the context which also changes the meaning of the content.

Open up time a bit in your mind and see how the situation could play out this month, year, or over a lifetime. The biggest upsets in life often turn out to be the most positive for us long term or, at least, have a less negative impact on us than we think.

20. Journaling

Writing down your thoughts has a profound effect on integrating the right and left sides of the brain. Research shows that when you write things down, you allow clarity and insights to come through simply by putting your thoughts and emotions on paper. Journaling allows you to name the emotions and things bothering you, and this process alone can help you neutralize and settle your thoughts. Name it to tame it.

21. Schedule Everything

Schedules allow for spontaneity. It sounds counterintuitive, but research shows the more organized your calendar is, the more flexible you can be. Knowing what you have to accomplish frees your mind to allow for spontaneous activity.

The lack of scheduling creates chaos in the mind. The calendar gets it out of your mind and frees up more cognitive space. It also gives us a GPS for what we need to do each day. Schedule all personal activities, not just work.

22. Get Better Sleep

Sleep is the master tool for recovery. Sleeping in a dark, quiet, cool room is the key to recovery and sleep. I personally use a Chillipad to keep my blanket temperature around 65 degrees. This gives me incredibly restful sleep.

23. The 5-Second Rule

This momentum technique from Mel Robbins is perfect for when you know you have something to do but don’t want to do it. Count down from 5 to1, and then start the activity. This countdown gives you the mental momentum to do things at that moment. Give yourself a countdown out loud whenever you find it hard to start a task and at the end of the count, you will be in action.

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24. The Accountability Mirror

This daily guidance technique keeps you focused on your goals. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “did I accomplish what I set out to accomplish today?” If you didn’t, be brutally honest about why you did not accomplish it, commit to fixing the issue, and do it the next day.

25. Stop, Start, Change

This is a super-effective 30-second therapy. Any issue you have or any place where you are stuck, stopped, or struggling, ask yourself, “what should I stop doing right now,” then “what should I start doing right now”, and “what should I change that I’m doing right now?”

26. The Magic Question

Here it is, the big question: “what am I pretending not to know?” When your brain is stuck and frozen or you feel like you don’t know what to do, ask yourself what you are pretending not to know about the current situation. It inverts the way your brain is processing the question. It penetrates your mind in a different way unlocking new possibilities.

The brain has a certain sequence to answer most questions. This question flips that sequence upside down, so your brain is forced to look at it differently. Use this question when you are ready for powerful changes.

27. Self-Compassion

One of the greatest things you can do to improve your productivity and maintain high-performance levels in your work or in whatever you do is to practice the techniques of being there for yourself. This means being mindful and paying attention to the way you talk to yourself when you encounter failures and setbacks, especially ones that feel as if they are your fault.

The key is to use the same kind of self-talk as you would use with a friend if they were in a similar situation. Speak to yourself with warmth and kindness. Then, recognize the common humanity of the situation—that you are not alone and there are many people out there experiencing exactly what you are right now.

Lastly, stay mindful of how you are talking to yourself and don’t overidentify or dissociate from the situation. “Compassionate productivity” is the most effective way to support yourself in these difficult times.[1] It’s not about being “soft” or going easy on yourself. It’s about being there for yourself in a supportive way, so you can recuperate and get back in the game in an even more productive way.

Try these 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to achieve your goals requires implementing some techniques and making use of some tools to help you on your path towards success. These 27 strategies are good starting points to jumpstart your journey towards achieving your dreams.

More Tips on How to Achieve Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Doran Erickson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Steven Griffith: Compassionate Productivity

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