Struggling to stand out? It might be time to take it personally…
Although it can seem like experience, knowledge and qualifications are the only factors a prospective employer is interested in – your personality also plays a big part in your suitability. And even if you match the job description perfectly, not drawing attention to some of your essential attributes could be holding you back.
To make sure you’re highlighting your personal qualities as well as your skills, here’s a quick explanation of the difference between them – and five personal qualities most valued by employers:
Personal skills vs. personal qualities
So, skills are all a potential employer really wants to see, right?
Not necessarily. In fact, whilst skills are generally things you learn or pick up over time through professional experience or training, qualities are those softer attributes that you develop through life experiences and personal growth.
That’s not to say qualities can’t be developed, but they’re generally more inherent.
Communicating both your skills and your personal qualities – and how you bring the two together – is a vital tool to help impress a potential employer. Not to mention help you succeed in your chosen role.
Having the right personal skills and experience for a role is essential – but it isn’t always enough.
Employers also want someone who can prove their abilities, know their worth, and actually follow through with their claims. After all, if you’re not sure of yourself, how can they be sure of you?
So when it comes to an interview, always exert confidence in your expertise – whether it’s by providing unique examples to prove your personal skills, maintaining eye contact and a firm handshake, or putting your abilities into practice in roleplays or tests.
The same goes for video interviews. With so many of us now interviewing remotely, confidence is an essential way of standing out. Speak clearly, positively and make sure you’re as relaxed and assured in your answers as possible.
Remember: it’s not just about what you say, it’s also about how you say it.
So prepare your answers in advance, and think before you speak. After all, nothing says uncertainty like repetitive ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’.
Do you wait to be told what to do, or do you lead by example?
If you veer towards the latter, you’re probably the proactive worker that a lot of employers are looking for. A team of quick thinkers with a high level of initiative is key to a smooth-running workplace.
Luckily, there are a few ways to demonstrate proactivity in an interview.
Firstly, talk about previous instances that prove you can use your initiative to get things done – whether it’s taking the lead on a project, noticing a mistake and fixing it, or prioritising tasks effectively.
Secondly – show an active interest in the role.
Asking about the kind of work you’ll be doing and referring back to the job description wherever possible is a great way to demonstrate proactivity. It’ll also show you’ve thoroughly prepared and are passionate about what the job involves.
No matter what the job is, roadblocks will always come up.
This means that employers need someone who’s able to approach unexpected challenges in an optimistic, non-defeatist manner. This means not only being able to solve problems, but also being able to learn and grow from adversity.
So how can you demonstrate these personal qualities to an employer? Aside from talking about any hurdles you’ve overcome in the past, it’s also key to draw attention to your determination and dedication to doing well.
After all, if you’re passionate about your goals, even in the face of adversity, you’re more likely to do what it takes to get there.
Change is a natural part of business.
Not only will employers be looking for someone who’s open to that, they’ll also want someone who can be flexible and adaptable in their work.
Whether this means you’re able to help out in different departments (for example, if you work in a large department store, and need to cover for someone in a different section of the shop), prioritise your workload according to the most up and coming projects, or take on extra responsibilities – adaptability is vital in almost every workplace.
This doesn’t mean you have to be totally against routine and familiarity. It just means you need to show you’re open to new things and willing to expand your knowledge.
Let’s face it, your attitude matters.
Even if you’re fully qualified for a job, a negative attitude can put you at the bottom of the candidate list. Not only will you come across as unenthusiastic, you could also imply that you’d rather focus on the bad than the good.
And even if you don’t think you’re being negative – anything from the way you talk about previous mistakes or problems, to how you answer competency questions, can imply a pessimistic attitude.
So be careful with your wording and make sure you focus on the positives in every situation – even if the outcome wasn’t easy to obtain.
Other great personal qualities to communicate in any interview: Accountability, Ambition, Empathy, Reliability, Creativity, Decisiveness
Need more CV advice?
It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. This means creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.
To find out how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, buy James Reed’s new book: The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview.
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