What Do Employers Want

In general, when an employer evaluates a job applicant, he considers some or all of the following:

• Formal Qualifications
Formal qualifications are used in two different ways:
a. To indicate level of knowledge and ability - By looking at what has been studied and passed, the employer can gain an indication of what areas of knowledge and skill are likely to be found with the job applicant.
b. To separate applicants who will be considered from those who will not be considered - In some jobs, a particular level of qualification is set as a minimum. Anyone applying without that level of qualification is simply not considered.

• Work Experience
When looking at an applicant’s work experience, employers consider the following:
o the total time in the workforce generally, and in the industry sector which the job relates to
o the level of responsibility held in prior positions
o the variety of situations in which skills and knowledge have been applied
o experience specifically related to the job being filled.

• Published works
In many jobs, good writing skills give an applicant a distinct advantage. Anything that an applicant has had published will help convince the employer of their good writing.

This can include business letters, advertisements and reports, as well as work published in newsletters, newspapers, professional journals, trade magazines, conference reports, popular magazines and books. All these kinds of writing are important in a wide range of jobs.

• Memberships in Professional Associations/Institutes
Membership in professional groups can be used to gauge the applicant’s level of acceptance by peers.
Membership in several associations is better than in only one.
When providing this information, applicants should consider:
o the length of the membership
o the relevance of the association to the job being sought
o any formal positions (e.g. President, secretary, etc) the applicant has held within the association
o any awards or recognition granted by the association.

• Personality
This is extremely important. Any employer will give a great deal of consideration to how well you will fit in with existing staff, for one of his/her aims is to retain harmony between employees. Employers will consider how likely you are to be manageable, and how readily you will take orders from your superior.

• Age
According to Australian law, at least, employers are not supposed to show any prejudice about age when employing people, but they sometimes do. Some employers seek more maturity in their staff, so it can be very helpful to show that you are mature in every aspect of your presentation. Appropriate dress for the interview, thorough preparation for the interview, ability to support your application with paperwork: references, school reports etc, and a basic understanding of the employer’s requirements can all demonstrate maturity.

To help overcome any age barriers, try to anticipate and counteract any possible prejudices an employer might have because of your age. For instance, if you expect that the employer is looking for a younger person, you might emphasise your energy, your willingness to take orders, and the special skill s that you can contribute. If you are a younger person, highlight any experience or accomplishments which are uncommon for your age group (community work, special awards, family business experience etc) in your job application.

• Adaptability
In the rapidly changing business environment, employers will look for staff who are flexible, and able to adapt to new situations. Be prepared to demonstrate your ability to adapt and be flexible as the need arises.

• Length of Involvement with the Field
An applicant might not have worked in the field they are applying for, but employers might also consider other ways in which they have been involved in that or similar work. These may include involvement in hobbies, clubs, societies, or as a student. For example, if you are applying for a job with computers, it can help that you have been an active member of a computer club for many years.

• Productivity
An employer may try to gauge what an applicant is likely to produce in an 8 hour day. Some employers are interested in willingness to work overtime. Other employers will avoid workaholics because they can be risky, burning themselves out and going onto worker's compensation.

• General Knowledge of the Field
Some employers require applicants to know the basics of the field in which they are working. For example, an employer in the horticultural field might ask:
o What is your general knowledge of the field/industry?
o How many plant names do you know?
o Do you understand soils and fertilisers?
o Do you understand plant botany? ...etc

However, some employers avoid people who have biased knowledge or strong views one way or another. They prefer those who will fit in with the policies and practices of the particular job.

• Specific Knowledge
Employers look for detailed knowledge or experience in the area covered by the job applied. Applicants who can demonstrate this have a big advantage.

Some Points to Keep in Mind Regarding Employer Requirements
• Employers will consider all or most of the above factors, not just one.
A qualification alone does not get you a job!
experience alone does not get you a job!

• Very few people ever get the perfect job.
Since you cannot predict which factor will finally give you the job you want, develop all of the above elements. This will give you the best chance of obtaining the best available job for you at any particular time.

• Different employers will prefer one particular qualification over another.
There is no one qualification in Australia which is preferred by every employer!
State government departments favour qualifications from colleges run by their own state government.
Some unions have written certain qualifications into their award systems, which means that employers must pay over award payments to staff holding those qualifications. Some employers operating under such awards prefer to employ people with those qualifications. Other employers actually prefer qualifications not recognised by the award so as to avoid having to pay out more money.

• Most employers will evaluate a qualification according to the following questions:
o Is it credible Are the tutors qualified and accepted by their peers? Is the school accepted as being credible within the industry (more important than acceptance with education circles)? Are students/trainees required to do a considerable amount of practical work to obtain a qualification?

o Is there any precedent of graduates with this qualification being employed? - Success rates in this respect can vary greatly. Even highly reputable university courses can have a very low rate of success with respect to students finding employment.

o iii) What has been studied and how useful will that be to us? - The proficient manager will always look to employ persons who have training in the areas in which they will work. The training needed can be very specific, so the employer may look closely at the training to see that it has included certain skills.

o iv/ How well does this training/education meet my needs? - Employers may seek job applicant with a particular background, such as a well-known college or a school with which they are familiar. Or they may want employees who have learned subjects or approaches that are not important to other employers.

• Experience is valued by employers who can use it to their own benefit.
This means that not all experience is valuable to all employers. Some employers may reject applicants who have worked for another particular employer because they have different approaches to things. (e.g. ABC Landscaping won't employ people who worked for AAA Landscapes because they just don't like the way AAA Landscapes goes about their paving...and they don't want to risk someone on their team who might do things differently). On the other hand, the fact that you worked for the competition may go in your favour, if the new boss thinks he can get some insights into his opponents by having you on his team.

• Identify specific employer requirements
To find out what employers in a particular industry look for, or what individual employers look for, read their business newsletter, industry publications such as magazines, web pages, brochures etc. If possible, read their mission statements, which might be on their advertising, and read their advertisements.