What Employers Are Really Looking For

Buzzwords, experience, business savvy…As a college recruiter, one of the questions students ask me most often is “What do employers look for in a candidate?” If I had a crystal ball and the formula for that question, I could single-handedly rule the world. But since my crystal ball is currently lost in transit, what I can share with you is what I’ve observed during my seventeen years of working with hiring managers.

You see, for hiring managers, finding the perfect candidate is like speed dating for Mr. or Ms. Right. Their tastes in candidates can change with their moods but fortunately there are a few common denominators that consistently pique employer’s interests. So when crafting your resume or preparing your interview pitch for employers, take their true interests to heart.


Nothing is more attractive than someone who knows how to take control of a situation or team. So when highlighting what you bring to the table, be sure to focus on a few shining moments in your academic or professional history where you held the reins. Were you a team captain for an athletic team? Did you lead a project group? Organize an event?

Talk about it. Explain how you motivated, problem solved, learned, and explored the situation or team to success. But remember, there’s no “I” in team. So if you make it all about you, you’ll go from leader to narcissist in the bat of an eye.


Businesses are global, cross-functional, multi-faceted organizations of constant change. And managers are looking for individuals who can keep pace with all the madness. So if you like making sense of chaos, can switch gears on the drop of a dime and fancy yourself as a situation chameleon, you’ll be able to strike a mutual chord with employers. Be certain to have concrete examples to back up all that flexing or you’ll lose your grip on opportunities.


Employers can teach candidates to do business their way. But if the candidate doesn’t have an innate passion for the work they’re doing then what’s the sense? Managers don’t want to hire individuals who are only in it for the paycheck. And you don’t want to taint your professional reputation being labeled an employment booty call. Companies want individuals who’ll have a vested interest in the work they’re doing, a drive to make the job better and the initiative to take the role to the next level. So bring your “A” game and wear your passion on your sleeve to accentuate your job search armor.

Limited hand holding

While PDA may keep the sparks going in a romantic relationship, all that hand holding can mean the kiss of death with managers. If you’re clingy and constantly looking for someone to guide you through every step of your employment journey, you’ll quickly find yourself kicked to the unemployment curb. It’s fine to ask questions or seek a little guidance from time-to-time. Managers like to feel needed. But if they feel like you’re taking up too much of their time, the novelty will wear off. Managers are partial to individuals who are resourceful and self-sufficient. So take note and know when to show your independence and when to ask for help; know when to hold em’ and when to fold ‘em to keep yourself in the consideration game.


Yolanda M. Owens is a recruiting sensei, intern whisperer and awarding-winning author of How to Score a Date with Your Potential Employer. Learn more about Yolanda and her employer “dating” tips by visiting her website or fan her on Facebook.

Related posts:

  1. What Makes Millennials Marketable to Employers
  2. Are Employers Taking Advantage of the Difficult Job Market?
  3. Plz take a min 2 read ths:

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Dan Schawbel

    Dan Schawbel, the founder of the Student Branding Blog, is a world renowned personal branding expert, the international bestselling author of Me 2.0, as well as the publisher of the Personal Branding Blog.

  • Connect With Dan

  • Chelsea Rice

    Chelsea Rice is the editor-in-chief of the Student Branding Blog. She began her work for just before graduating from Boston University, where she studied journalism and minored in international relations.

  • Connect With Chelsea

  • Recognition

    • Recommended resource - The Washington Post
    • "A terrific way for students to learn about branding" - Lindsey Pollak
    • "Worth checking out" - Psychology Today
    • HR World's top 100 management blogs