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13 Skills and Traits Employers Look For

by Jennifer Galvin Rowley

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There are a number of traits that employers look for when hiring new talent. However, sometimes there are skills not included in a traditional job listing that can add exponential value to a position or company.

Forbes Agency Council conducted a survey of members about their thoughts on the most under-appreciated skills and traits that a potential candidate should have. Their best answers are below.

 

  1. Creative Problem-Solving

So much of the creative work we do is actually problem-solving: marrying client wishes, creative team talents and consumer tastes to create a campaign that grows a brand. New hires should be able to demonstrate the ability to solve problems creatively, be able to adapt to new situations and provide new insight that will help shape and guide brand growth.

2. Emotional Intelligence

It's fantastic when a candidate is highly educated and looks good on paper. But that doesn't mean they can work well with people (customers, community and employees) in a fantastic way. Emotional intelligence is something that I look for immediately, as I don't want a robot. How do they interact with people? Do they understand the importance of emotion as it relates to business? Do they have empathy?

3. Hustle Mindset

I always look for someone who has a hustle to them. Maybe they have a side hustle, worked multiple jobs to get through school or currently freelance write for publications. I can teach most of what we need at Durée and Company to service our clients in an ever-changing industry, but I cannot teach someone to have that curiosity and hustle.

4. Deep Thinker

I believe the most under-appreciated skill is the ability to actively listen and follow up with deeper, better questions. It's easy to stay on the surface and make assumptions. It takes tenacity and insight to know where to keep digging and probe for the underlying truths. In our 140-character world, it's tempting to take the shortcut, which is what makes this skill rarer and more valuable

5. Perseverance 

So many employers look for hard skillsets but I have found the one skill that can't be taught is perseverance -- that inner drive to succeed and not give up when things don't work as expected. In marketing, particularly in public relations, perseverance is the one skill that separates the good from the great.

6. General Curiosity

The way this industry has changed and continues to change at an accelerating pace, I've found that the greatest determiner of ongoing success is simply insatiable curiosity -- curiosity about the world at large, about new technologies, art and culture, and about the human condition in general. A curious employee is more likely to see change as an opportunity, embrace it and find new ways to turn those opportunities into an advantage for our clients and the agency.

7. Phone Manners 

The art of answering the phone is a skill that not many possess. I always look for friendly and happy individuals that laugh easily and are helpful. When they answer the phone to old clients or new, it creates a positive feeling about the company. Our company phones are almost always answered and we rarely receive any voice messages. Person-to-person communication still works.

8. Empathy

We want people to have a ton of skills. We normally have a good eye to detect if the person will be able to develop the ones they still don't have. We have to look beyond the skills we are going to help them develop and focus on their values. I think empathy is the most important one because it is at the core of every other value, making them honest people and willing to work with others.

9. Humility

In a fast-paced, busy world that loves the word "hustle," we look for humble people who are self-aware and know the value of hard work -- not thinking less of themselves but thinking less about themselves. 

10. Ability And Willingness to Learn

We live in a world continuously adjusting to digital disruption all around us. Companies are all trying to keep up with the fact that technology can provide many of these solutions faster and easier. Creating a young digital team has taught me to seek colleagues that are highly eager to adapt to changing environments. When learning to swim, you must be willing to take the plunge into new and unknown waters.

11. Goal Striver

I believe that any skill can be learned. But if one doesn't have goals to climb the ranks from where I initially hire them and the courage to know they have to go above and beyond without expectation for a promotion, then I am doubtful they will go above and beyond for the company because they are comfortable with just doing enough. Every company is only as good as everybody who works there.

 

12. Grit

Grit is the new black of finding key talent. It is part of someone’s core fabric. It is something that was learned throughout their lives, not something that can be taught be an employer. Ask questions like: “Tell me about a project you took to the finish line but then were told to drop it. How did you respond?” or “What’s something you’ve earned that took months/years to get?” Dig for grit; it’ll pay off.

13. Intellectual Curiosity

I lead the Media and Analytics teams at our agency, two disciplines that evolve at a tremendously fast pace. While it's great when job candidates have tactical experience with various channels, platforms and methods, the most valuable attribute I look for in new team members is curiosity. People who take it upon themselves to read industry trade publications, stay abreast of market and cultural shifts, tinker with new technologies and approaches, and commit to continuous learning tend to provide some of the most valuable contribution.

This article is courtesy of Forbes Agency Council