Landing Your First Job

Looking to enter the workforce? Trying to adjust to your first job? Ready to make the most of your paychecks? Finds answers to these and other questions here.

The key to getting the job you want: Give potential employers what they want.

What are employers looking for in employees? What traits are considered valuable and will help you come across favorably during an interview?

If you demonstrate these attributes in your application, resume, and during interviews, your odds of getting the job you want will drastically improve.

Be a team player.

In this day of rush and hurry, and impoliteness, good people skills and the ability to communicate well with others is extremely valued in the workplace.

Team players are needed, and employers are looking for those with the ability to work well with others. This means being able to work well with others and being supportive of co-workers, instead of sabotaging them or trying to make others "look bad" (often at the expense of the project or task). It also means respecting the thoughts and opinions of coworkers.

Griping at others, criticizing, blaming, or being known as "difficult" is not okay in today's workplace. Smiling, communicating well, and knowing how to be gracious and flexible is. Employers consider a positive outlook and enthusiasm for the job important, as well as taking responsibility for one's actions and personal integrity. Employers are looking for employees that they can trust, and whom they believe will do a good job.

Self-esteem and confidence are considered part of a positive outlook. Employees with a good attitude will contribute towards reaching the company's goals, and adapt well to the culture of the workplace.

Be a hard worker.

This probably comes as no surprise, but the hard working and productive employee is highly valued by employers (and has the best chance of being hired during interviews). This means being willing to do occasional overtime when required, or doing your best work (and not taking frequent breaks or "goofing off") when on the job.

This trait is also related to self-motivation and the desire to succeed. Employers stated in surveys that the self-driven employee who wants to achieve success at work (and takes the necessary steps to ensure it) usually does.

Know your product.

Employers value the employee who takes an interest in their company, and understands thoroughly the product or expertise that is the basis of company profits. They also consider enthusiasm and a high opinion of the company and the position positive qualities. Learning above and beyond the "minimum", being able to help customers, and actively seeking to increase the company client base are other valued traits according to employers.

The job seeker can demonstrate this enthusiasm and interest in the company by doing "homework" before a job interview, researching the company, its products, its client base, and possibly having ideas on marketing or increasing production.

Don’t be late!

Late is not great, but getting to work on time is. Being careful to not overuse sick time is a plus in an employer's eyes. Employers want employees that can be relied on. The employee who forces others to cover for them, or who constantly shows that they are unreliable, will have difficulty keeping (or finding) a job.

Know how to bend.

The modern workplace is a rapidly changing environment, as technology changes and companies adapt to new methods. The employee who is adaptable and willing to learn new methods will do well. Some employers may use untraditional methods, or have jobs which combine several tasks and different skills in one job ("multitasking" is the byword used). The employee who has a good attitude towards change is viewed very positively according to employer surveys.

Learning never ends.

Employers want people who use critical thinking skills at work. It is not okay to have the attitude; "I already know everything." (Realistically, no one does). The ability to solve problems, make decisions, and find creative solutions are valued traits. The person who is constantly learning, and seeking to improve their knowledge base, is the one that employers will hire.

Use what you have already learned.

Employers value employees who have the schooling and background necessary for the position. In fact, salaries are often scaled in part according to the amount of education the person has obtained. Incentives and bonuses (and promotions) are given to those who put in the time and effort to obtain a degree (or even an advanced degree) and certifications to enhance their value in the workplace. Having this educational background will also give an applicant the edge over others when applying for a position.

It’s not just talking.

Good, clear communication, whether during an oral presentation, or when writing a company memo, are valued traits in employees. Knowing how to listen is also another equally important skill, according to employers.

Don’t be afraid of commitment.

While some "job hopping" is expected in certain industries, many employers (who don't want to have to constantly train new employees) consider a track record of staying with a company for several years a plus. In fact, some employers look very closely at how many times an applicant has changed positions in the past few years when considering who to hire. Trying to find a better position within a company, or trying to negotiate a salary increase before changing jobs are all considered positive actions, since they indicates company loyalty.

During an interview, an employer may ask questions to see how much company loyalty the person has, such as "Why are you looking for another position?" or "What did you not like about your last job?" It is important to not create the impression that you are using your jobs as "stepping stones" as you leap from company to company for higher pay. The interviewer will naturally assume that you will do the same at his company.

Also, never disparage your former employer in an interview, since this creates the impression of a poor attitude (see trait number one above). Instead, try to be positive about your current job, while stating that while you enjoy it, you are looking for more challenge, or a chance to make a real contribution in the workplace.

Apply what you know.

The less training the employer has to do, usually the more favorably the applicant is viewed. In industries driven by technical or programming expertise, this becomes especially important, and the applicant should emphasize their related skills. Often, the person with experience relevant to a position will be favored over the one with no experience.

Computer skills are also becoming more important in many workplaces, and employees with this ability will have an edge over those who don't.

The person who has the traits mentioned in this article will be the one that employers have stated they are looking for. They are enthusiastic, eager to learn, and are at work not "putting in time" to get a paycheck, but because their job interests them. They are using their creativity and expertise to help their company grow and expand its client base. The person who develops these traits will do well, whether looking for a job, or for a promotion within a company.

© 2000 - 2007 Kenmare Publishing


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