What Qualities Do Employers Look for in a Potential Employee?

What Qualities Do Employers Look for in a Potential Employee?


Whether you’re stepping out into the corporate world for the first time or transitioning from one job to another, you have to appeal to potential employers and prove that you’re best for the job. While past experience, particular skills, and a great resume will all help, there is more to landing that perfect job than just looking good on paper. As Diahann Mathis, Principal of SDVS, says, “an ideal candidate that stands above the rest [has] skills that are more important to the key technical skills pertaining to a particular job.”

We’ve interviewed some hiring experts and asked them about the qualities that employers look for in potential employees, and here’s what they said.

A Positive Attitude

It has been said that “attitude is everything.” Although cliché, it appears that phrase may be true. At least, it is when it comes to getting a new job. Employers want employees who are happy and pleasant to be around. Brianna Rooney, Founder and CEO of Techees, says, “My number one [quality] is someone that is happy and optimistic. It sounds funny because you would think that’s something so obvious, but I need people in my office that are happy, go lucky, and always positive. You’d be surprised how many people I have passed on because they were too low key.” A positive attitude can help employees overcome challenges more easily, it can contribute to general office morale, and it typically leads to more productive and driven people.

Willingness to Learn

Most of the experts we spoke with told us that a willingness to learn is usually more important than having the required technical skills or past experience in the field. A new job means new challenges and new tasks, so even precise technical know-how from a previous related job may not translate directly, and employees will still be asked to learn new skills, software, and more. “Demonstrating a willingness to learn and adapt, as well as [having] a track record that speaks to flexibility and [an] ability to learn new skills, is absolutely necessary when considering a new job candidate,” says Nate Masterson, HR Manager at Maple Holistics.


Especially when paired with a willingness to learn, ambition is another top quality that employers look for in new hires. They want individuals to be ambitious in making and reaching goals, driven towards success, and motivated in achieving whatever they set their minds to. Employers want new employees to embrace the vision of the company and move forward as they ambitiously seek to bring that vision to life. Christopher Lee, Founder and Career Consultant at Purpose Redeemed, says, “As they say: ‘hire for character, train for skill.’ Applicants aren’t expected to know everything. But they must be motivated and able to carry out the job once trained.” Diahann Mathis, Principal of SDVS, agrees with those ideas. She says, “Th[e] ideal candidate would be passionate about their career, always bringing fresh, new ideas to the organization as it continues to grow… making them a great asset to the company.”

Teamwork Capabilities

In just about every role within an organization, an individual will be expected to work in a team in some sort of capacity. People who don’t work well with others, who are too abrasive, or who don’t take constructive criticism well are not the type of people employers are looking to hire. Founder and CEO of Badger Mapping, Steven Benson states, “It is important to know if the candidate is a team player, regardless of how impressive their resume, referrals, and credentials are.” He goes on to say that he looks for team-oriented projects on their resumes and he expects team players “to listen to healthy constructive feedback and to actively listen to and acknowledge the efforts of their colleagues.”

It’s important to have a baseline of education and technical capabilities when you’re applying for any job, but be sure to consider what some say are the most important qualities of a potential employer.