In the middle of a job search, or expecting to be seeking a new job in the near future? Here are the top 5 qualities that companies are looking for when hiring right now, according to these recruiting professionals.
Widespread layoffs. Acute job losses. Rising unemployment rates.
These headlines have relentlessly been flashing across our mobile and television screens every day for the last few months.
Looking for a job during this crisis can feel like a Sisyphean task. You apply to 20 jobs, secure an interview with two, get a rejection letter from one and never hear back from the other.
The one thing you do have control over, is how you present yourself, and what you can bring to the organisation’s table. So, instead of cursing your luck or external factors you have no control over, spend some time on honing the qualities that most recruiters are looking for in candidates when hiring today.
We did some research and spoke to a few recruiters, to find out the top 5 qualities that companies value in candidates today. Let’s take a look!
The Top 5 Qualities That Companies Are Looking For When Hiring
1. Subject matter and functional expertise
This doesn’t mean you must necessarily be the best in your field to land a job in it. What it does mean, is that your basics and knowledge of the work must be strong.
“No longer are organisations looking for people who are jack of all trades and master of none,” says Rashmi Chopra, co-founder and director of Reva HR Consultancy, with over 27 years of experience in the field of HR.
Professionals with several years of experience need to have the skills, growth, and necessary qualification to show for the field they have worked in when searching for a new job. Freshers, she says, need to be very strong in their fundamentals. “Organisations understand that they’ll have to grow and train you, but the basic knowledge you have should be strong,” she emphasises.
Giving an example of recruitment in the IT sector, she says that IT companies often ask candidates to give a pen-and-paper exam during the interview process. Candidates who are accustomed to copy-pasting, rote learning without understanding of the matter, using technological hacks, etc. get weeded out. “The minute they are asked to write a syntax or a code without a computer, a lot of candidates are not able to do it. That’s where 90 percent of them get filtered out. Your basics have to be strong.”
Nidhi Negi Dixit, a LinkedIn Certified Recruiter and Talent Acquisition Specialist, with over 9 years of experience in the field, echoes this belief. One must only apply to job openings where their functional expertise corresponds with the job description.
“The candidate’s competencies – their knowledge, skills and abilities – should match with the job description,” she asserts.
2. Soft skills, especially good communication skills
Nidhi says that the pandemic has made certain soft skills become high in value. “Certain soft skills are absolutely critical to survive in this new normal, and organisations know it. Some significant ones are agility, adaptability, empathy, and effective communication,” she says. “Advanced cognitive skills like creativity, growth mindset, innovation, decision making, and information processing will be high in demand to find unique solutions during this unprecedented time.”
Good communication skills are critical, especially during these tumultuous times and when working distantly, both recruiters confirm.
Rashmi says that communication skills matter a lot during the hiring process. “The unfortunate truth is that a person very strong in a certain area but lax in communication skills will find it tougher to get in during the hiring process. The other truth is that valuing and looking for good communication skills in English is still prevalent in a lot of industries,” she says.
If your lack of proficiency in the language is not a barrier to you being able to perform well on the job however, make your employer see that in the interview. Be confident in your skills, and show them that your lack of proficiency in English does not hamper your communication skills, and will not hamper your work.
3. Clarity of thought
Clarity of thought and reasoning when it comes to your career path, your work, and your goals, reflects well on the candidate. Take the time out to gain some clarity on these matters if you feel like you don’t have it.
“You need to have a reason for wanting the job, wanting the change. It’s important to understand this about yourself, as anything ingenuine or that will not be conducive to the organisation’s work environment in the long run, will clearly reflect on you,” Nidhi says.
Rashmi recalls when she would go to college campuses to interviews. “There’s a question that HR loves to ask – “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?’ It is a maha bekaar question,” she laughs. “It almost never leads to any suggestions about the candidate.
Your goals should be related to growing technically strong or becoming an expert in your area, and not simply becoming powerful through your position.
4. Updated and upskilled
Whether you’re a fresher, someone looking to enter the workforce after a break, or looking for a job change – take every opportunity to invest in your growth, and keep yourself relevant in the industry.
Nidhi and Rashmi emphasise on the value of certifications and qualifications. As freshers, in addition to being able to show that your ability to translate knowledge into good performance is strong, back that up with certifications. A fresher with just a graduate degree will be given less priority over someone who has a degree, and has certifications in relevant courses.
Nidhi believes that being tech savvy right now is of paramount importance. “Most organizations are focusing on digital transformation by leveraging technology, analytics, and process excellence. Digital solutions may include – RPA, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, business intelligence etc,” she says. “Such solutions can help to lower costs dramatically and free up specialized human resources for high-value engagement. Any candidate exhibiting these skills or willing to learn would be a preferred choice. Candidate should be keen on improving productivity and performance through upskilling, reskilling, cross-functional skilling or continuous learning which is beneficial for organizations too.”
Rashmi confirms this, saying that even if someone is returning to work after a break, the first thing they need to be able to prove is that they aren’t outdated. “Because technology is changing very quickly. Have you lost touch with being up and about and chasing the deadlines of the day and handling the given task? Can you hold a Zoom meeting? Can you work on a collaborative Google sheet easily?” If the answer is “no”, you need to focus on updating yourself and honing these skills.
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Rashmi says that employees often neglect treating their work as an opportunity to learn and grow, so when they need to look for another job, they aren’t a good fit even with years of experience. “When you ask people – “What have you done in the last few years to upskill yourself?” – the answer is nil battey sanatta. They have not invested on themselves one bit. Take the opportunity in every job to grow as a worker and individual,” she advices.
5. Asking for fair compensation
“India is still a very sensitive market in terms of compensation – against each requirement there’s hundreds of people trying to grab that job. You have to be price conscious because everybody is trying to get a better resource, cheaper resource, and a resource who is available to join immediately,” Rashmi says.
Compensation is a key matter of conflict right now, when organisations are on tight budgets, and the pool of job seekers is ever-growing.
Be aware enough of the worth of your skills to be able to show the employer why what you bring to the table is worth the compensation you deserve.
Otherwise, Nidhi believes, being open to negotiating a satisfactory price, that is a fair compensation for your skills and is fair to the organisation’s budget as well, is necessary right now.
These experts believe that working on, and highlighting these qualities, during the hiring process, will definitely increase your value and chances of getting in.
Take some time to reflect on these points, and how well placed you are in them. Hone these expert-advised qualities to stand out as a candidate, and go wow those recruiters!
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