What Hiring Managers Want In A Good Job Candidate

Personal Branding

Even in a tight job market, hiring managers are having a tough time finding the right candidates.

According to the Career Advisory Board’s 2012 Job Preparedness Indicator, only 17% of the 516 hiring managers polled said job seekers possess the skills the companies are actually looking for.

“Despite a poor job market there are all these open positions,” says Alexandra Levit, business and workplace consultant and Career Advisory Board member. “Companies might interview 15 or 20 people, but they are not finding the right kind of talent.”

According to the survey, which also interviewed 540 job seekers, one of those must have skills, especially for senior level managers that job seekers don’t have or aren’t promoting, is a global perspective of business, says Levit.

They want candidates that understand business is conducted differently in different cultures, says Levit, noting that companies increasingly want senior level candidates to have some sort of global perspective whether it’s working for a multi-national company or one that does business overseas.

Another skill that’s becoming a requirement: social media acumen. “Everybody has to have a good handle on social media,” says Levit. “It’s particularly applicable to people who are older and don’t have a handle on social media.” Levit says it behooves job seekers to learn how to use social media and how it can be applied to business.

Of the survey respondents who are responsible for senior level candidates, about one in five or 18% said that very few of the job seekers have the needed skills compared to 13% of hiring managers in charge of entry level or mid-level candidates. The survey also found that while hiring managers are placing the greatest emphasis on global perspective and business acumen, job seekers are more likely to focus on attributes like strong work ethic and self-motivation, which are more important for lower level positions.

Although job seekers are facing an extremely tough job market, the survey also discovered that more than half are reluctant to seek help in finding a job. In fact, 58% of job seekers said they rely on their own knowledge and experience to decide what information they should include on applications, resumes and cover letters rather than get the input and advice from career counselors. What’s more senior level job seekers look at how a position could fit with them instead of how they can fit with the position.

“In a lot of cases people are unaware these skills are important and haven’t taken the time to develop them. In other cases people have these skills but they aren’t the ones they reference,” says Levit. “A lot of people have studied abroad, done volunteer work overseas or took a trip on behalf of their company and they aren’t mentioning it.”

In addition to having a global perspective and social media know-how, to stay relevant during the next five years, Levit says job seekers need to have the ability to be cross functional. That means the days of having a niche and becoming an expert in a very specific area are gone. “This survey found the opposite. Hiring managers want you to go in and do the job of two or three people, they want to know you can work in different departments and have a good set of transferrable skills,” says Levit. She says job seekers need to show they have experience in a wide variety of areas and skills. That could mean conveying you have experience in marketing as well and finance and sales. “Companies down sized to such a degree they don’t have people specialized,” she adds.

Being technologically savvy is another trait hiring managers want to see from job candidates, according to the survey. It’s not enough to know how to use a PC and the Internet anymore, but now you have to be on top of technology changes that affect your job. So if you are an accountant, for example, you need to know what the latest software is and how to use it, says Levit. “While gaps continue to exist, if job seekers more proactively engage in professional development and guidance during the job search, they will be more successful in delivering what hiring managers and companies are seeking,” says Levit.


Donna Fuscaldo is a freelance journalist hailing out of Long Island, New York. Donna writes for numerous online publications including FoxBusiness.com, Bankrate.com, AARP.com, Insurance.com and Houselogic.com. As a personal finance reporter for years, Donna provides invaluable advice on everything from saving money to landing that dream job. She also writes a weekly column for FoxBusiness.com focused on technology for small businesses. Previously, Donna was an equities reporter for Dow Jones Newswires and a special contributor to the Wall Street Journal. Through the Glassdoor Blog, Donna will provide tips on how to find a job and more importantly keep it.