Published on 2012/02/27
Top Three Factors For Job Seekers
Punctuality and reliability are high on the priority list for employers when they look at potential new hires. Photo by Ceru Andrei.

Three key factors can help job applicants get the edge in hiring and predict the success of the employee.

“For more than a decade, significant research has been conducted on employer preferences, also known as Voice of the Employer studies,” said Chris Stiehl, president of StiehlWorks, a San Diego-based marketing research firm that has done studies for the federal government. Employers consistently look for evidence of three key factors in each applicant. Surprisingly, many job seekers are unable to produce direct evidence of these three factors.

According to Stiehl, the top three desirable factors for job seekers are:

Factor #1: Employers want proof that a prospect has the necessary knowledge, training and experience to perform the job or, at least, to learn how to perform it. Preferably, the prospect has both. What was important was not only the training and experience, but the demonstrated ability to learn! The employer would examine the resume, attitude and approach of the prospects.

“Of greater importance to the employer was certification of the ability to do the job, or certification of the knowledge and skills that would allow the prospect to learn how to do the job,” said Stiehl. “A track record of success in similar jobs was preferred, but the key was to be able to point to evidence, proof, of abilities to perform and learn. The employers perceived that the nimbleness of their organization and the rapidly changing marketplace required them to have employees who could adapt and change with the marketplace. Direct experience, while relevant, was not as important as the demonstrated ability to adapt and perform in new circumstances.”

Factor #2: The employers wanted evidence that the prospective employee would be dependable at work—they would be available for work every day. Surprisingly, few prospects recorded or mentioned their attendance record at school, at work, or in the training/certification program they had just completed. There were instances when a prospect was selected after a lengthy interviewing process, but had a minor attendance problem during the company orientation. Despite the time and energy invested in finding the employee, many companies perceive even minor attendance problems as early indicators of future problems and fire the lackadaisical new hire.

According to Stiehl’s studies, illness and other concerns can cause attendance issues. Employers want to know that the work they have assigned will be taken care of and the strategies they have attempted to implement will not suffer. Employers know and understand the costs of poor attendance, both direct (lost labor, lost production) and indirect (effects on other staff of picking up the load).  Employers want to combat this trend by hiring prospects with great attendance records.

Factor #3: Similarly, the employers wanted to know that the prospect would come to work and meetings on time. Punctuality was another key element of evaluation. The employers believed that attendance was not good enough; the prospect had to have a track record of being on time. Habitual lateness, even just for meetings, was viewed as disrespectful. Many meetings are now virtual meetings, with remote attendees. The need to be on time becomes more critical with virtual meetings. Tying up several employees waiting for another becomes increasingly expensive and decreases workflow productivity.

“If others are likely to be late, then being a few minutes late may not cost us any waiting time, but the employer may think about what it costs the business,” said Stiehl. “Employers in the U.S. expect and want their employees to be on time, despite what other cultures and traditions may dictate.  Chronic lateness has been shown to cost employers billions of dollars.”

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Readers Comments

Yancy Oshita 2012/02/27 at 10:35 am

To advance the impact of lifelong education, educators need to hear the “voice of the employer” more in terms of outcomes, skills and other relevant attributes they are looking for in not only prospective new hires, but employees looking to advance their careers. Incorporating such empirically-based insight into institutional programs and courses should improve employer return on investment of their tuition assistance dollars…Thank you for sharing your view, Henry!

    Maura McGrath 2012/03/29 at 1:16 pm

    Agree! Thanks for your comments, Yancy. When education asks businesses/organizations what they need and want, higher education becomes truly relevant. With a high pricetag and nowhere to go after college, students and parents rightfully wonder if a degree program is an appropriate next step after high school…it used to be a job was waiting for you after college…not so anymore.

Trevor Cassidy 2012/02/28 at 8:05 am

Is it time for a mandatory life/work skills class at the middle/high school level? These all seem like things that people should know going in… at least the punctuality ones…

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