The Great Recession is behind us. While debate lingers as to when the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression officially ended, the economy appears to be bouncing back.
Employment numbers in the United States support this. According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment plummeted to 5 percent in October 2015, the lowest since April 2008. Exactly six years before, unemployment peaked at 10 percent.
Despite an improving job market, however, those seeking positions or currently working must still focus on employability—skills and attributes necessary to acquire and retain jobs.
Businesses openly express that they want employees to not only do their jobs well, but also possess less tangible attributes—referred to as soft skills—which are usually more personality-driven and harder to quantify.
“When companies are assessing job candidates, they’re looking for…someone who is not only proficient in a particular function, but also has the right personality,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at career resource and job-listing site CareerBuilder, told Business News Daily. “It’s important to highlight soft skills that can give employers an idea of how quickly you can adapt and solve problems, whether you can be relied on to follow through, and how effectively you can lead and motivate others.”
Managers and companies desire certain key qualities in their workers. By knowing, practicing and incorporating the following 10 traits, you can dramatically increase your worth to current and future employers.
Character is the virtue of knowing right from wrong, turning from the wrong, and doing what is right, even in the face of negative pressures. It requires one to be honest and upright in everything he or she does.
Sadly, though, good character in the workplace has all but disappeared. Comparing today’s society to that of even 20 years ago makes this plain. People tend to do what is most expedient for themselves or a given situation.
Put yourself in the place of an employer. Employees are a representation of your company. How they conduct and present themselves, interact with customers and fellow employees, and the quality of their work, reflects directly on your organization.
If you had to choose between an employee who was upstanding, trustworthy, honest and truthful in his dealings with others, one who goes above and beyond, and does excellent work—and one who lacks these qualities—which would you keep on the payroll?
The answer is obvious.
Sound advice for those looking to further themselves in their careers is to “always increase the value of the real-estate.” Instead of being a reference about land, property, homes or buildings, it is actually an analogy about increasing your value as an employee.
Think about a house. When it is remodeled and invested in, its value increases. So too will your value to an employer as you improve and upgrade yourself.
This can be done in a variety of ways.
First, identify skills you already have. Many people are unable to identify what they do well. If you do not know what you are capable of, how can you expect anyone else to recognize it?
Once you have identified your skills, seek to improve them. Employers love to see workers who are willing to go the extra mile to better themselves.
Also strive to gain more than one skill set. Make it your business to broaden the number of tasks you can perform.
For example, an automotive technician who can repair anything on a car has more value than one who can do only routine maintenance tasks. Likewise, a carpenter who can not only do rough framing, but also siding and roofing, along with installing windows and doors, stands a better chance of holding on to his job than others with only one specialization.
Learn all you can and avoid complacency. The more you can do, the greater value you will have to an employer. In turn, you will also have more opportunities for advancement.
Few things are as aggravating to an employer as dealing with a worker who does not carry out instructions. As a result, the company misses crucial deadlines, makes mistakes, and produces faulty products or provides poor service—all of which result in unhappy customers.
Failure to follow instructions accurately is often because employees either do not pay attention to directives or do not care enough to carry them out.
Most misunderstandings and miscommunications at work can be avoided by simply applying a basic biblical instruction: “Let every man be swift to hear, [and] slow to speak” (Jms. 1:19). Human nature tends to speak and react immediately, rather than patiently listen first.
A person who waits and listens, and then carries out directives is rare. Yet many mistakes and accidents could be greatly reduced or even eliminated by simply listening to and following instructions.
A willingness to be attentive also shows respect for your superior, which will not go unnoticed. He will see that you patiently listen without interrupting, which will assure him that you take your duties seriously and can handle more responsibility.
Individuals with positive attitudes are well-liked by their co-workers. They are easy to get along with and people enjoy being around them. Why? No one wants to be around someone who is unhappy. Pessimism and negativity breed more of the same.
Cheerful attitudes are contagious. They have a positive effect on the workplace.
Similar to everyday life, things can go wrong at work. Employers want workers who approach issues with an upbeat attitude and work toward devising and implementing solutions.
Consider. The purpose of every profession is to solve some type of problem. Problems need solutions. Wages offered in any industry are generally proportional to the degree of difficulty and complexity of problems employees must solve on a daily basis. The more problems you solve—large or small—the more valuable you will be to your employer.
Realize that one who is prone to complaining is often the first to get replaced. Instead, be an employee that quietly and efficiently does his job day after day.
Have the type of positive attitude about your job spoken of by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry” (The Seattle Times).
He continued by saying that you should work in such a manner that people will say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well” (ibid.).
In the past, craftsmen used to take great pride in their work. They were accountable and felt an obligation to be the very best. Often they would pour hours into their crafts.
Today, many employees barely do enough to rightly earn a paycheck. This is reflected by the lack of quality in goods produced and services rendered.
If you want to become a more valuable employee, understand your particular job responsibilities and attempt to go above and beyond what is required. The more care you put into every detail of what you do, the more your manager will be able to focus attention elsewhere. He will know he can rely on you to get the job done, which will provide him with peace of mind.
In addition to this, realize that your job duties affect others. Your mistakes can cause more work for fellow employees. Understand that you can make your coworkers’ jobs more difficult if you perform work in a slipshod manner.
Also keep in mind that when things go wrong, most people blame others. A responsible employee, however, is not afraid to admit his mistakes. An employer appreciates such honesty.
There are two types of employees—those who wait to be told what to do and those who take initiative and find innovative ways to be productive to benefit their employer. Managers notice a self-motivated worker and will seek him out for advancement.
Avoid the tendency to wait for someone else to address or fix an issue. Give your company the most “bang for its buck” in what they spend on your salary. This can be done by anticipating problems and being willing to help resolve them.
There is an old saying: “If you want it done, give it to a busy person.” Those who productively use their time are more likely to be given increased responsibility or even promotions.
Often, employees repeatedly arrive late, call in sick, or do not show up at all. When someone fails to show, the impact is felt beyond the person. Others must pick up the slack.
Dependability comes down to trust. Managers must be able to know for certain that employees will do what is expected of them. They cannot afford to handhold and coddle workers who agreed to do a job when they were hired—and then do not do it.
What if the tables were turned? Imagine if you worked hard for two weeks and when it was time to get paid your employer paid you late or not at all. What if you had to constantly remind a boss to provide you with the tools and resources needed to do your job? You would be extremely unhappy.
Strive to be a dependable employee. Legitimate issues do occasionally occur that can force you to miss work or have to adjust deadlines, but this should be the exception not the rule.
By your actions, show people that you keep commitments. A dependable and productive worker stays on the payroll.
Few today are willing to finish what they start. Yet a diligent person applies constant effort and is persistent in what he does without waning. He does not give up at the first sign of adversity.
There is a reason employment is called work. It takes effort. If anyone could do your job, then it probably would not be a paid profession.
Give your employer a full day’s work for the full day’s pay you are given. In other words, “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecc. 9:10).
Be known as a hard worker. Often this quality will take you much further than intelligence or “who you know.”
Become known for being an employee who exercises constant diligence in whatever you do!
Distractions in the modern world can make it difficult to focus while on the job. If not careful, we can allow concerns outside of work to creep in and steal away “attention” that is actually being bought and paid for by your employer.
A good employee is one who stays on track despite issues that everyone faces from time to time. He manages his life and strives to keep problems at home. He also does not become distracted by modern technology, such as the Internet or a cellphone. He focuses his attention on his work.
A diligent employee does not waste his employer’s time and money. Instead, while at work, he works!
Consistently exceeding an employer’s expectations and being willing to take on any task shows dedication.
Many employees feel as though they are “above” a given task and voice their complaints. They fail to consider that if those tasks did not exist, they would not have jobs. Keep in mind that if your motto is, “That’s not my job,” you may soon find yourself out of a job!
Jesus Christ spoke about dedication and doing what is expected. Notice His words from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible: “If your servant comes in from plowing or from taking care of the sheep, would you say, ‘Welcome! Come on in and have something to eat’? No, you wouldn’t say that. You would say, ‘Fix me something to eat. Get ready to serve me, so I can have my meal. Then later on you can eat and drink.’ Servants don’t deserve special thanks for doing what they are supposed to do. And that’s how it should be with you. When you’ve done all you should, then say, ‘We are merely servants, and we have simply done our duty’” (Luke 17:7-10).
This is drastically different from the prevailing attitude of workers today!
Avoid an entitlement mentality. Be a worker who shows he is dedicated to his job by doing more than is expected—not just the bare minimum.
While many more traits could be added to this list, there are seven laws of success, which every person, regardless of his or her position in life, should follow. These proven rules will help you prosper not just as an employee, but in all aspects of your life.
These include setting the right goals, getting a proper education, maintaining good health, being driven, and employing resourcefulness.
David C. Pack’s booklet The Laws to Success provides insight into these often-overlooked laws. This publication clearly explains the keys to true and lasting success in all areas of life.
There are hallmarks of a valuable employee. By systematically and consistently applying the principles covered, you will increase your value in the job market and provide yourself greater job security in the future.