17 Traits Employers Seek in Candidates

Updated January 31, 2023

Possessing certain traits or characteristics can make it easier to get a job. There are specific qualities that employers look for in job applicants and employees. Knowing what these qualities are and how to obtain them can help make you a better candidate for new opportunities and promotions.

In this article, we list 17 traits employers look for and why they are valuable.

17 traits employers look for

Each job requires unique sets of skills, but every company can benefit from employees that possess critical traits and characteristics. Here are the top traits and skills employers want you to have and why they are valuable:

1. Integrity

Integrity is one of the highest-valued traits in the workplace. To have integrity is to have strong moral or ethical principles. Having integrity requires you to be honest, behave honorably and treat others with respect. Employees who possess integrity help to promote a professional culture and maintain a positive reputation for themselves and the company as a whole.

When a problem occurs, people can depend on you. When you say you are going to do something, you follow through on your commitment. When someone asks for your help or advice, you are open and honest. Those with integrity hold themselves accountable for their actions and can admit to their shortcomings.

Read more: Integrity: Definition and Examples

2. Strong work ethic

It's easy to understand why employers value hardworking employees. People who work hard show that they care about their job and the company they work for. Hardworking employees consider their bosses, coworkers, customers and clients.

Hard workers show up to work early and will stay late if they need to. They take their job seriously and complete every task to the best of their ability. Hardworking employees do more than what is necessary because that's who they are. When others work less, they work harder and employers appreciate that.

3. Communicative

Employers look for applicants and employees who have strong communication skills. Being able to communicate your ideas as well as actively listen to others allows more work to be done quickly and efficiently.

Being able to speak and listen effectively can enable you to use your communication skills in person, on the phone or in writing. You are great at giving and receiving feedback, and communicative people can solve problems and resolve conflicts more easily.

4. Flexible

Whether you are open to working on tasks from multiple positions or switching your hours when needed, employers enjoy flexibility. You have more to offer to companies and management because you are willing to work outside of your job description. When a coworker calls in sick, you manage their responsibilities for the better of the company. When extra work needs to be done, you help out.

Flexible employees work more effectively with customers and clients, as well. A salesperson might change their approach with a challenging client. A support representative could change their tone and spend more time speaking with an upset customer. Flexibility helps companies in many ways, which is why employers value it so highly.

5. Team-oriented

Working as a team is a trait that employers value highly because teamwork skills are essential to the success of a business. Even positions that require employees to work on their own the majority of the time will need to be able to work as a team at some point.

If you need additional help with a task, you may have to rely on working with at least one other person. While some positions require you to work by yourself, having a team-oriented mindset also shows that you are working for a higher purpose and value the collective efforts of others in the company.

Team-oriented employees are also excellent prospects for management and leadership positions. Managers and leaders require a team effort from their coworkers and must be able to work collectively as a unit to continue progressing.

Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

6. Technically competent

Being technically competent can make you a better prospect for a job because of what you already know about a position or industry. Employers value technically-competent people because you have already learned many or all of the skills that you would need to be successful in the position.

You can be technically competent in three ways:

Transferable technical competence

You can have industry skills that are transferable from job to job within an industry. This might be a skill, such as computer literacy, or knowledge of shipping and receiving.

Industry-specific technical competence

You can also have industry sector skills that allow you to understand more refined skills to a specific sector. On top of the competency of shipping and receiving, you might also understand the work of shipping and receiving within an online business.

Occupation-specific technical competence

You can also have technical skills applicable to a specific occupation. An example might be that you worked as a manager of a shipping and receiving department in an online business and are able to understand the software and day-to-day responsibilities of that specific position.

7. Determined

Being determined goes beyond valuing your position enough to work hard. Determined people do whatever it takes to get the job done. Determination means you have a purpose for what you do and have goals and visions for how you get your work done and how you want to progress within a company. Employers search for determined people because they have a forward-thinking mindset and do what is necessary even in challenging times.

Read more: Key Workplace Skills: Determination (Definition, Tips and Examples)

8. Eager to learn more

Eagerness to learn more is a valuable trait because it shows that you strive for excellence and want to move upward within a company. While some employees do what is required to earn a paycheck, eager employees seek to learn new skills and retain knowledge about different positions.

Eager employees are easier to teach and therefore can reach leadership and management positions quicker than others. What employers enjoy most about eager employees is their receptiveness to new information and drive to listen and learn.

9. Loyal

Loyalty is a highly-valued trait that employers look for because it helps companies keep employees around longer. There is a lot of additional work and effort that must be put in when seeking and hiring new employees. Companies with high employee turnover spend more time and money hiring and training new employees, which is why loyal prospects are valued higher than others.

10. Problem-solving

Employers value problem solvers because of their ability to determine and analyze a problem while quickly being able to create an effective solution. An employee that can solve problems on a day-to-day basis means less time that a manager needs to step in to find a solution. Those who solve problems effectively are more trusted by employers and their opinions are valued due to successful problem-solving track records.

Related: Effective Problem-Solving Steps in the Workplace

11. Independent

Independent people can be left alone to complete their tasks and be trusted by management to complete them efficiently. Although many employers like employees who can work as a team and communicate well with others, being independent allows an employee to work on their own without being dependent on others to get it done. Independent working is only valuable if the employee can display effective time-management, critical thinking and problem-solving skills to be trusted on their own.

12. Ambitious

Similar to determination, being ambitious shows employers that you will do what it takes to get the job done. You take the extra time to learn new processes and possess new skills, and you have a vision for the future that includes higher-paying positions and more responsibility.

Besides having future goals, being ambitious also relates to your current position. When a new project or task begins, you set a goal for yourself that pushes you toward success. Ambitious people like to complete tasks and work as quickly and effectively as they can to produce excellent results.

13. Responsible

Responsibility is a critical factor to successful employees, and hiring managers and recruiters strive to hire trustworthy people. As a responsible employee, you show up to work on time, complete your tasks as instructed and communicate with management when problems arise.

When issues occur during a task that you initiated, you take full responsibility and can communicate the errors that you made. You can admit to mistakes when they happen and take complete ownership of the tasks and duties that you are given.

14. Goal-oriented

Most people have goals, but being goal-oriented means that you are focused on taking the actionable steps required to achieve your goals. Many businesses value goal-oriented people because they strive for more, whether that be more distinguished positions or more responsibility.

Since every company has its own set of goals and a general vision for its business, having goal-focused employees allows them to share their goals and work to achieve them together. Employees with goals work harder and strive to learn new things.

15. Confident

Confidence requires trust in your capabilities and knowledge. Confident people understand the skills they have and how much they can do based on their skill sets. Beyond personal capabilities, employees who display bold confidence can positively affect other employees and the entire workplace. Showing confidence in yourself and during day-to-day tasks can make other people feel confident as well.

Self-confidence requires you to understand yourself, including both your strengths and weaknesses. Positive self-talk can help employees become more confident in themselves and promote a more positive workplace.

Related: 10 Ways to Boost Your Confidence in the Workplace

16. Adaptable

Similar to flexibility, adaptability is your ability to adapt to change. Being flexible focuses more on short-term changes and needs from a company, while adaptability focuses more on long-term changes that could significantly affect a workplace.

An example of flexibility could mean working a few extra hours or taking on a sick employee's responsibilities while they are absent. An example of adaptability could mean having your position removed from the company and being able to adapt to a brand-new position.

Adaptability is an essential trait in businesses that change frequently. When positions are removed or a company makes extensive shifts in its vision, you can adapt to any change quickly.

17. Dependable

Dependable employees show up to work on time and produce consistent effort in all of the work that they do. Employers look for this trait because it helps to be able to depend on an employee and be confident that they will be able to complete the tasks that are given to them.

When an employer has a project or job that needs to be completed in a specific amount of time and up to particular standards, these tasks are given to a reliable employee. Dependable employees consistently show their capabilities, which can lead to raises and promotions.


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