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What Do Employers Want?

We have worked with thousands of clients.  They range in size from SME, privately held organisations, through to global corporates with huge reporting structures.  We’ve sat down with them, talked about their company, their team, their pain and their aspirations.

And when it comes to people – it is all the same.  

Everybody is searching for the same things.  They shouldn’t be hard to find, in fact, you’re probably not unreasonable to say, they should be a base level expectation.  However, in our technology driven, social media manic world, these things are becoming increasingly rare:


Employers and managers are literally falling over themselves to find people that will take ownership of their work.  If you’ve got a can-do attitude, you can be relied upon to get a job done, your boss will be happy. Why is that? Well, your manager likely has a bunch of things on their to-do list, and having an employee they can trust is paramount.  Make sure you’re taking ownership of your role and if you say you’ll do something, then get it done.


It’s completely reasonable to expect some good onboarding and training when you’re new.  But there comes a time when you’re going to have to manage out of the box situations. Make sure you’re using your initiative, otherwise eventually you might be replaced by a robot!. Think of it like creating opportunities or problem solving – how can you make things that little bit better?  Most employers would be really happy for their staff to turn up the initiative dial. (But double check with social smarts below, because there is a risk of over doing the initiative part too!!).

Communication skills  

It’s on every job vacancy and the lips of every hiring manager.  But we aren’t talking about speaking clearly or writing good (bad grammar intended BTW) – it’s about communicating appropriately for the situation.  We started working on a role today where the prior employee sent emails to the person sitting right next to her instead of just talking with the person!!  So using the appropriate communication channels for the situation is incredibly important. If you’re not sure – observe what others are doing or just ask.


Most people want to come to work to be energised by people around them. Employers avoid negative people because they know that over time it drains everyone around them and it reflects poorly on their company brand.  Don’t be that person who people avoid!

Social smarts

Unless your role is to sit in a cupboard by yourself, chances are, you’ll be working with other people – so it is really important that you’ve got a handle on social graces – the simple stuff – like turn up on time, appreciate opportunity (i.e say thank you!), present yourself well, don’t whine, don’t smell(!). But it is also the “over-things” too:

  • Over-ownership – you just won’t let things go, so you end up with a massive to-do list, run down and miserable.
  • Over-initiative – maybe check in with your boss before you go changing key systems and processes?!
  • Over-communication – too many emails, talking too loudly, debriefing after every call…
  • Over-the top energy. You know, those people who are so raving happy all the time that you wonder if  everything is an act?

Surely it’s not that hard you say?  Well, unfortunately it is becoming harder to find.  So if you’ve got teenagers – get them into some good customer service role, because these are the roles where you’ll pick up a lot of these great skills – and they will serve you well in life.

Good luck and may the ownership, initiative, communication, energy and social smarts force be with you!

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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