Top 5 Things Employers Look for in an Employee

I’ve only had four jobs in my life.  Three of them were part-time jobs when I was a student.  It is interesting to talk to other people and learn about how many jobs they’ve had.  One friend has worked at 10 different places.  Another has had over 12 different jobs.  I guess you could say that when I find something I like, I stick with it.  Perhaps.  In truth, the first two jobs I actually didn’t enjoy that much but they paid the bills so I did my best with them.

If you’re a student looking for part-time jobs it may be easy to not take it very seriously while if you are a person who has been out of work for a while it may become a little more important to do things right.  No matter which category you fall under, it’s always important to do your best in any scenario.

We interviewed several different business managers and put together a quick list of the top five things employers look for in an employee so that when you’re going through the job interview process or beginning to work you will have a clear understanding of expectations and how to best keep making a good impression.

5.  Adaptability:  The ability to change on the fly.  Sometimes even a well-oiled machine breaks down.  When a system has problems, employers need to know that their workers will not just shut down.  Once, when I was working at a prominent fast food chain in a very high-traffic location, our computers and registers shut down.  There was about a five minute period there where we couldn’t take any orders and lost lots of business.  What did we do?  We did it the old fashioned way.  There were a few calculators in the office so we just wrote down orders on paper, figured out the prices of the items on the calculators, and gave the orders to the line workers.  That’s adaptability

4.  Good hygiene:  Come on.  This just makes sense.  And it’s really very easy.  Take a shower every day.  Keep yourself smelling and looking nice.  How hard is that?  Well, as it turns out it can be difficult for some people simply based on their current home situation or finances.  Maybe you are one of them.  But you have to find a way to get cleaned up, especially for the job interview and just as important, for every day of work.  No one will want to work with you if you smell like the inside of a French subway train at rush hour.  Ugh.

3.  Flexibility:  Can you only work one day a week?  They probably can’t use you then.  You need to be able to work when the company needs you.  Having a wide range of available work times is very important.  However, you don’t want a company taking advantage of you either.  If you are a full-time student working a part-time job, you need to make sure that you balance your work with your academic schedule.  You may have religious beliefs that could interfere with working certain days.  Those things are fine and employers understand.  Just make sure you communicate with them about that stuff.  For the days or hours that are not problems, tell your employers that you are ready and willing to work if they need you.

2.  Initiative:  My first day of training for a new job at a fast food place the manager was showing me around the facility.  I always keep my hands in my pockets.  Maybe it’s a thing I learned from my grandpa.  But as soon as that manager saw what I was doing, she  basically snapped at me telling me to get my hands out of my pockets.  Turns out she was never a very friendly person.  But she did have a point.  Having my hands in my pockets did not give her a signal that I was ready to work.  Be sure that during the job interview, training, and when you start working that you are always getting after it.  Be hands on and eager to work even if you don’t feel like it.

1.  Dependability:  This is an easy one to get right but if you mess it up, you might be looking for another job.  Employers have to know they can count on you to be there when you’re supposed to.  Always make sure you keep a copy of your schedule in some form.  Now days, that’s even easier with smart phones and tablets that have calendars built in with full alerts.  You never have a reason to “forget you had to work” again.  Sometimes things come up.  You get sick.  A family member dies.  Your car breaks down.  Employers know this.  Life happens to them too.  Just be sure that you let them know if something out of the ordinary does happen. Be sure you give them a time when they can expect you back at work so they can plan accordingly.

These things may seem like common sense but I’ve worked with all kinds of people and at one point or another, one of them screwed up in one or more of these categories.  However, if you can stay on top of these things, odds are you will have a long and successful working experience.