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The Recruiting Process: what you need to know about what employers really want

The recruiting process is two-sided, with the employer and the candidate having complete different needs. You probably know your needs, but do you know what employers are really looking for when hiring? The more you know about what employers want the better chance you have of surviving the recruiting process.

For the employer, the employee represents an investment. Benefits packages, training, career development, workspace and other expenses incurred by the company must be offset by employee output.

Author John L. LaFevre states in How You Really Get Hired: An Insider Story from a College Recruiter that employees are the most costly asset of companies, "As a job candidate, you must prove that you offer the potential for a strong ROI (return on investment) (p.2)."

He goes on to say, "Although every new hire is a real gamble, recent college graduates... are especially high-risk investments," and "often require extensive training before the company can begin to reap the ROI (p.2)." His advice: "Your job search strategy must address the fact that you a high-cost/high-risk investment (p.3)."

That said, there are many forward-thinking companies who do extensive recruiting of graduates. Why? Because graduates offer current knowledge, comprehension of the latest advances in the field, fresh approaches and enthusiasm, but because of the costs mentioned above, the screening process can be vigorous.

In the June 1999 article "Making the Most of Your First Job," from the Information Week Online website, Sally Richards relates that "Managers are putting recruits through rigorous interview processes for good reason.

They can't afford to hire recruits who don't work out. The candidates who survive the first round of personality interviews may be required to go through technical testing to pinpoint aptitudes and strengths."

Barbara Spencer Hawk reiterates the need for technical competence in her book, What Employers Really Want: The Insider's Guide to Getting a Job. In her "three dimensions of fit" for employees she cites technical competence as the first. But she says there is more to it than that. Hawk conveys that distinguishing characteristics make up the second dimension, "Employer's want solid, personable, reliable employees who bring their best to the workplace every day."

Hawk stresses that employers value employees who are clear communicators, self-motivated, team players, hard workers and honest (p.23). Of course different employers value different traits and to different degrees, but chances are those five critical traits that make up Hawk's third dimension of fit will figure somewhere in their preferences.

According to Hawk the bottom line of what employers really want from their employees is "To protect or improve their competitive standing (p.7)." To ensure that she suggests, "Employers want very specific types of people: allies and colleagues, thinkers and doers... (p.34)."

In Bridging the Skills Gap: The Job Hunter's Career Handbook of Top Employers (Canadian Internet Edition), Flavian DeLima, reports on the recent interest corporations are showing in the Emotional Intelligence Quotient or EQ. DeLima notes that the professors who coined the term EQ described several key areas including self-awareness, managing emotions, self-motivation, empathy and handling relationships.

In discussing these "soft skills" DeLima says, "In the long run, such skills are crucial to the success of a company's products and service. It is not surprising then that employers place a great deal of importance on self-management skills in their selection process for the ideal candidate (p.202)."

The experts seem to agree that technical ability isn't enough. People skills are as important. What Employers Really Want sums it up this way: "Employers want fundamental skills, wrapped in a personality package that includes a complex set of productivity, agreeable behaviors, qualities, attributes and characteristics (p.22)."

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