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4 Things Business Employers Look for in Potential Employees

pexels-photo-327538The workplace is constantly evolving due to factors from demographic shifts to technology. What employers are looking for has shifted, both in terms of soft skills and technical skills. Here are four traits business employers look for in potential employees. We’ll also discuss why these things are so valued by employers and how to demonstrate that you have these traits on your resume.

Self-Directed and Self-Aware

Self-directed employees are valuable because they don’t need to be closely supervised. In some cases, people continue their own education instead of waiting until they lose a job to return to school. This is seen as evidence of self-direction. For example, someone who earned an online MBA degree to improve their understanding of business management instead of being sent to training by management has demonstrated how well they drive themselves. Another way of stating this is that they are pro-active instead of reactive.

Employers also value employees who are self-aware. These are the people who understand their strengths and their weaknesses. It isn’t necessary to point out their flaws, though they may still make mistakes and need correction in those cases. If they are self-aware, they won’t freak out when told they made a mistake. Self-aware employees who are also self-directed will aggressively correct problems on their own, in a way they can work with once an issue is pointed out.

Good Core Values

There are also a set of core values employers are always looking for. You, of course, want employees that are honest and have integrity. Nobody wants to count theft as part of their losses. But you also want employees that are honest and have enough integrity to own up to their errors and act on their word.

A good sense of responsibility is also something every employer looks for in his employees. Employees that are responsible are more likely to be punctual and play their role as part of a team. A good work ethic is another personal value that employers appreciate. A worker with a good work ethic works to improves himself and will perform to the best of his abilities every day.

Loyalty is another understated value that employers look for. The revolving door costs a lot to companies and they have to invest more in training and recruiting new talent. A less established workforce will also be less performant due to constant new arrivals.

Problem Solvers

Companies want problem solvers. It is problem-solving that AI cannot do for itself, and it is problem-solving that customers need if the service or product wasn’t delivered perfectly.

Businesses are paying a premium for people who can wade through the masses of data they are collecting in the hope of deriving value from it, which is why earning an MBA in business analytics will put you at the top of the stack of resumes. If you don’t have a degree in business analytics, you can still demonstrate this expertise by listing practical problems you solved as part of your job experience instead of giving general platitudes.

For example, state that you increased sales 15% after taking over a department by shifting the product mix to better fit your customer segment or identified underserved markets and better marketed to them. State that you reduced product repair time 8% by implementing a more efficient work assignment system. Talk about reducing costs 4% in the department through better scheduling, work prioritization, and increasing customers’ ability to utilize self-service websites. Or, talk about how you saved the company money by researching energy ratings for new appliances and identified the equipment for upgrades that would both improve productivity and require less energy during operations.

Communication Skills

Working well on a team is a given today, but communication skills are not. You can list this as a bullet item on your resume, but it is better demonstrated by having a professional resume and tailoring it to the job description. You can avoid countering this image by having your resume proofed by at least two people to ensure that there are no errors in grammar or spelling.

If you are fluent in other languages, highlight that on your resume. If your expertise is specialized, say so. For example, being able to translate medical terminology or legal terms in another language demonstrates your understanding of both the language and the subject matter area.


These are just some of the traits employers are looking for in their employees. Having or developing these traits will allow you to stand out and will give you a leg up on the competition. The good news is that if you’re missing these traits, they can always be learned. Whether it’s your sense of self-awareness, confidence,problem-solving or communication skills, there are always ways that you can improve yourself if you’re ready to go the extra mile and work for yourself.

About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

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