Around your junior year in high school, you probably started quickly picking up on all the tips and tricks needed to land at the college of your dreams. You dutifully enrolled in SAT courses, worked on crafting the perfect college essay, and made sure you had an exemplary list of extracurriculars.
But now that college graduation is in the future, it’s really game time. All those tests you’ve taken and skills you’ve been honing over the last few years have been leading up to this big moment. But if you’re like most college students, you’re probably still left wondering how to score an amazing job right out of school.
From College to Real World
While some qualities may differ depending on the profession you’re diving into, there are certain traits that all employers find irresistible. When you apply for a job and are able to show you possess these traits, they’ll practically be begging to hire you. Read on to learn more about the qualities every company is looking for in an employee:
- Take Initiative
Perhaps the most important quality all employers are looking for is someone who takes initiative. By demonstrating an ability to do things without being told, an employer trusts they won’t have to hold your hand every step of the way or spend excessive time training you. This is invaluable to any employer since it means they can use their time doing other important things to build the company. Here are a few great ways to demonstrate your ability to take initiative, both during the interview process and once you’re in the workplace:
- If a company you want to work for isn’t hiring, ask if you can come in for an informational interview. You’ll score points for showing genuine interest.
- Go to networking events and make connections with employers, even if you’re not looking for a job at the moment.
- Don’t wait for a task. Identify something the company needs to be done, and then go do it!
- Be Teachable
As much as employers love having someone who doesn’t need to be babied, they also want someone who is humble and teachable. You’ll want to make sure you keep a careful balance of confidence along with the ability to take advice. Even the best employees may face criticism every once in a while, and the way you handle it could make or break your reputation in the office. Here are a couple examples of how to be a teachable employee:
- Ask your boss where you could improve, then take action on the feedback.
- If your employer offers optional workshops or outside education, always sign up.
- Exceed Expectations
Any employer would be delighted to have an employee who constantly exceeds expectations. Someone who just does the bare minimum of what is asked simply won’t measure up when it comes to promotion time. Go the extra mile in some of these ways:
- Stay later than other employees and use the time to perfect your skills or complete additional tasks.
- Ask your boss what else can be done around the office, even if it’s outside your job description.
- Don’t be afraid to clarify assignments before you begin so you don’t spend time having to re-do your work.
- Be Dependable
Dependable employees earn the respect of their employers. If you’re consistently showing up on time, getting the work done on deadline, and keeping your promises, you’ll be revered as someone the boss can rely on in difficult times. Here are some ways to be dependable in your job:
- If someone needs help with a task, volunteer to get the job done.
- Help your boss with things outside of your normal scope, like planning an office party or running an errand.
- Be a Team Player
The best leaders don’t just plow forward on their own and expect others to follow their example. Rather, true leaders walk with their co-workers and serve them along the way. Be sure to exemplify leadership skills by:
- Expressing confidence in other employees.
- Asking others for their thoughts about how things should be run.
- Delegating tasks to others (when appropriate) rather than trying to do everything on your own.
By working on these five characteristics, you’ll be an excellent addition to any company. But employers won’t know what they’re missing if you don’t show off your valuable traits from the outset. So be sure to demonstrate your abilities from the moment you start making connections in the professional world. You’ll be one step ahead of your fellow students, and sure to land a great job—no matter the industry!
Annabelle Smyth is a freelance writer located in Salt Lake City, Utah. She enjoys writing about leadership, HR, and employee engagement. She has most recently worked with CMOE, writing about business leadership best practices. When not writing and educating herself, you can find her hiking the canyons with her dog and friends.