What do employers want? It's not what job seekers think

By Aimee Shaw

A new survey suggests first-time job seekers are overestimating what skills employers are looking. Photo / iStock
A new survey suggests first-time job seekers are overestimating what skills employers are looking. Photo / iStock

Experience is not dependent on whether you get the job, in fact, a new study reveals it is quite the opposite for first-time job seekers.

Recruitment technology agency for first-time job seekers New Force conducted a study comparing job seeker attitudes towards job hunting to that of what employers had to say - the result was interesting.

The study found job seekers overestimated the importance of work experience, with 42 per cent citing experience as critical and 24 per cent citing it as the key criteria.

New Force sales manager John Webster said first-time job-seekers should prioritise attributes, not experience.

"Every day I talk to employers who can envisage the type of person they want. They start by describing the required skills, then move into personality and the candidate's approach to work," Webster said.

Aside from skills and experience being "hand in glove", Webster said reliability is key attribute employers look for in a job candidates.

Total Commercial Cleaning Solutions general manager Joanna Baker said her team works best when everyone is "on-board".

"People who regularly don't show up or leave early affect everyone else," she said.

"Before I hire anyone, I will ask for referees so I can check how reliable they are.

"This is a major selling point of one candidate over another and you don't have to have years of job experience to present well in this area."

References supporting positive behaviours become a key selection tool when hiring juniors.

Survey findings reveal just 9 per cent of job-seekers mentioned reliability as important, with a mere 4 per cent mentioning the importance of a good attitude.

Managing director of consultancy firm Optimize International, Georg Bej, said he looks for people with the "right attitude and headset".

"Their approach should be driven by passion and I want to see an ongoing desire to improve," he said.

Bej's thoughts are echoed by former Pacific HVAC Managing Director Ian Bakos.

He said he hires juniors based on behavioural competencies such as reliability, punctuality and presentation.

"In the absence of accumulated skills and experience, appropriate proven past behaviour provides a meaningful foundation for future learning, development and success."

Bakos said understanding the importance of soft skills and attitude is particularly important for first-time job seekers who don't have a lot of experience.

"References supporting positive behaviours become a key selection tool when hiring juniors," he said.

Job seekers should be careful with what they post online as social media platforms such as LinkedIn provide employers the ability to 'get to know a candidate'.

Remember - when in doubt backspace out.

- NZ Herald

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