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I am very grateful for the job experiences I have had so far. They're great for building my resumé and my skills, but they’re also great in painting a clearer picture of what employers look for in a candidate. Today, I will emphasize the importance of possessing certain traits and why they matter to your future. They also happen to be characteristics that you will find useful in your personal life and academic life.

In other words, I have gathered three transferable/soft skills or traits that I have found to be highly valued by my past employers, and most possibly, your own!

1. Punctuality

It may seem like a random trait out of the many skills and characteristics that make up a great employee. However, at the end of the day, employers not only want you to be punctual, but they also want the work to get done and done on time. Are you the kind of person to get tasks done as soon as they're assigned to you? Maybe not chores or assignments due in a month's time, but what about work tasks? Employers care about your answer to that question. My past supervisor valued an employee who was punctual, because it meant she didn't have to worry if things were getting done and if they were getting done at a good pace. Once a task is assigned to you, put it on your schedule and prioritize the task accordingly, in relevance to other tasks you also need to get done. It's a great feeling knowing you got a task done within a day or two when your supervisor may have expected it done for a little later. Always strive to be better and to make sure that all the work you're assigned is getting done on time!

2. Curiosity

Unsure about a task? Ask questions! Interested about something completely irrelevant to your tasks/position? Ask about it! Want to take on another project because it seems cool? Ask your supervisor! Want to know more about anything at work? Ask!

Do you see the trend? Be curious and express that curiosity!

Employers love young employees who ask a lot of questions, that show their interests and talk to their supervisor openly about what they don’t understand and what they want to know more about. It shows the supervisor and the rest of the team that you care and are engaged within your position. They want employees who are curious, who ask questions about everything they find interesting and who show that they want to learn more. It proves to the employer that you are ultimately interested in learning, and being knowledgeable. So do not be afraid to ask questions to your colleagues and supervisor!

3. Likeability

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is really, really important nonetheless. No one wants to work with someone unenjoyable, difficult, rude, insensitive, or negative. How do you present yourself when you’re having a bad day? Do you act quieter than usual? Maybe even completely secluded?

It is very important to be  aware of how you act and how dependent your mood is on your behaviour. Being aware can help you figure out if you should shift your mindset and attitude so that even on your bad days (we all have them!), you can limit how your type of day affects your character. As business students, we will all likely work within teams, meaning we will most likely always be surrounded by people. This means we must always present ourselves as positive, communicative, kind, sensitive and empathetic towards others as well as simply being enjoyable to be around. We can do that by being more aware of our behaviour and what factors affect it on a day-to-day basis. Once we understand those factors, we can manage our behaviour on a daily basis much easier and more effectively.

We are all capable of expressing our genuine goodness, positiveness positivity and kindness, so don’t forget to learn to apply those positive features so that your employers are more drawn to you and everyone in the workplace will be attracted to your presence. Be the person people look forward to seeing in the morning!

Being punctual, curious and likeable are only a few of many skills and traits that are just as valued to employers. It is crucial that we all understand ourselves and are able to express those skills academically, personally and professionally. If you are unsure if you have any of those traits, or if you want to explore more of your transferable skills, I suggest attending one of the Career Centre’s “Self-Understanding, Career Planning and Testing” workshops, where a career counselor will help you understand what transferable skills you may have and which ones you may want to develop! There’s no such thing as being too skilled!

© 2022 Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa
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