What are the qualities employers like to see in job candidates?
“From what I hear, they are looking for people that have a real desire to work,” said John McMichael, business vitality manager for the City of Aiken. “They want people who are interested in investing themselves in their businesses and learning as much as they can. They also want people who are looking at it as a real opportunity, not just a job.”
McMichael believes that applicants who know something about the companies where they are seeking positions and are prepared to ask questions impress employers.
“They also want people that have a good attitude, not only when they are dealing with customers, but also when they are around other employees because it creates a good work environment,” McMichael said. “It all boils down to one thing. A smile is worth its weight in gold. It’s hard to be mad when someone is smiling at you.”
Laura Haffly also mentioned a good attitude as a trait that employers like to see. She is the vice president of operations for Aiken Staffing, which places people in administrative, technical, industrial and contract positions.
Job Shop, which is Aiken Staffing’s affiliate division, is a permanent placement agency that does professional recruiting.
“Our clients look for folks that are good team players and are going to have good attendance,” Haffly said. “Obviously, they (job candidates) should have the skills they need to be able to do the job. But in my opinion, the soft skills of cooperating, being dependable and being willing to learn are as important to an employer as whatever technical skills that employer is looking for.”
Most companies that use Aiken Staffing’s services expect job candidates to have at least a high school diploma or GED, Haffly said. And for many technical and industrial positions, employers prefer applicants to have at least a two-year college degree.
Haffly also offered some tips for job interviews
“I always suggest dressing professionally,” she said. “You don’t necessarily have to wear a suit, but your appearance should be neat. If you don’t have a resume prepared, know what your work history is and be able to communicate it to a potential employer.”
In addition, during interviews, Haffly advised job candidates to “maintain good eye contact, have a good firm handshake and be able to explain why you’ve changed jobs. Be very honest and upfront with the answers that you are giving.”