What do employers want? The 4 Cs

Employers want people who can do the jobs that require their business to be successful, and certain job titles and skills are more in demand than others. However, after working as corporate recruiter and with hundreds of businesses, I have a short list of skills that I think are absolutely sought after by all employers, regardless of the industry or job titles they hire for.

The 4 Cs

  • Conscientiousness
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

Time spent developing these skills is critical to the success of anyone preparing for or in the job market.

I’ll spend the next few weeks describing what these skills are and provide a list of things to do that can help develop these skills.   Yes, they are developable.  Although some people are born with more innate ability in some of these than others, they all can be defined and developed in concrete ways.

The First C: Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is one of the most noted personality traits that is a predictor of job performance.  It’s also described as initiative.   You can read more about some characteristics and studies on things related to conscientious in this previous post, but I think an example of what conscientiousness looks like through behaviors that a person demonstrates is more helpful.

An Example

I’ve recently had an I/O grad student working with me on a community wage survey.   The faculty of the program (where I completed my Masters in I/O) selected her as an ideal candidate for this project, notably because of her interest in compensation.   I also indicated that I needed a self-starter who could stay focused while working on tedious data analysis and have the ability to meet a tight deadline.   AKA a conscientious person.

Man did I get her!  She was the poster child of conscientiousness!

Here are some behaviors she exhibited:

  • She arrived early for our first meeting for me to train her on how to do the data analysis.   With a 2 hour drive to get here, she planned accordingly and allotted herself more time to arrive just in case something came up on the way.
  • She asked thoughtful questions when needed in order to make sure she had an understanding of what was being asked of her to complete.
  • She lent suggestions about how to arrive at getting something done when she had a better method, and did so in a polite, helpful manner.
  • She worked remotely and handled her time to complete the project with zero supervision.
  • She was patient with me in my response to her email questions when I was out of town.   When I wasn’t answering a question right away, she moved on to work on other parts she didn’t have questions about instead of letting my absence get her behind.  THIS IS KEY!  Most people do not do this, they use it as an excuse not to complete work on time.
  • She created job aids for herself to remind her of steps that needed to be taken on each data set to make sure she did it correctly and consistently.
  • She clarified specific deadlines.  I told her I needed the completed survey to me on Wednesday, she asked for a specific time on Wednesday.
  • She turned the project in an hour early.
  • She performed every task asked of her correctly.  She followed directions.

So, what tips can I glean from this to establish conscientiousness for myself so employers want to hire me?

Behaviors are cultivated through habits.  Here are behaviors, based on this example you need to get in the habit of doing:

  1. Arrive early (and plan ahead to give yourself enough time to do so).
  2. Follow directions.
  3. Before you can follow directions, you have to listen to directions and/or read them!  Do this by eliminating distractions when you need to listen, and writing things down when necessary.
  4. Ask clarifying questions.
  5. Make suggestions in order to help people be more successful.
  6. Don’t wait on someone to prompt you to do something. Monitor yourself in getting work done; don’t rely on someone else to do it for you.   If your mom is always asking you to get your homework done or your boss is always asking for a certain task to be completed, you aren’t demonstrating conscientious behaviors.
  7. Complete work on what you can when you are waiting on information from someone else.  Do not use someone else’s absence as an excuse to quit working.
  8. Create tools that help you remember things in order to do things right the first time and consistently.  Oftentimes, all this needs to be is a checklist.
  9. Turn in assignments early; don’t procrastinate.

Who do you know that is successful in their job or in school because they are conscientious?  What do they DO to show people they are conscientious?

Mary Ila Ward

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