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12 Traits and Competencies of right fit Talent

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Traits and competencies every candidate must have. What are the key traits and competencies valued most by employers?

Finding the right fit talent can be hard. With so many applications per vacancy, how can you be sure to find the best candidate for your role? Should you consider traits and competencies in your selection?

When looking to find the very top talent, recruiters need to consider more than experience and qualifications alone.

Identifying traits and competencies is one of the most effective ways to predict the future performance of candidates. Competencies are inherent qualities an individual possesses – combining skills, knowledge and ability. Competencies can help to identify the right fit talent based on fair and transparent measures.  They also help recruiters to assess and grade large talent pools.

Here are 12 traits and competencies valued in businesses and our top tips on how you can develop these to become a top talent.

1. Ability to Handle Pressure

The ability to handle pressure means that you can still work to a high level of performance even if there are challenging external factors. This could include demanding targets, working to deadlines, managing multiple tasks and reacting to change. 

Companies value employees who can stay focused, get the job done and deliver in a fast-paced environment. Employees who struggle to handle pressure will not be high performers when it matters the most. Jobs that particularly require the ability to handle pressure include project managers, supply chain and logistics and healthcare workers.

You can develop your ability to handle pressure by practice and by reflecting on what went well/what could be improved.  In your current job or clubs/hobbies could you take on an extra project to practice this skill? Top tips to develop this skill include:

  • Plan ahead and control the known variables
  • Delegate tasks where possible
  • Focus on what needs to be achieved, don’t be a perfectionist
  • Take breaks to keep focused

2. Relationship Orientation & Extroversion

One way of measuring personality traits is to assess whether you are task-orientated or relationship-orientated.   Relationship-orientated personality types tend to focus on the needs of the people around them. They will put their effort into building communities and relationships, placing more importance on these than their to-do list.  Another way to measure personality types is to assess whether you are an introvert who prefers solitude or a smaller social group or an extrovert who enjoys socializing and being with others.  

There is no right or wrong when it comes to personality types. And all personality types bring value to a company.  However, it is a cultural norm that extraversion is associated more with leadership and career success.   Roles that require extraversion include sales, events management and public relations.

So can you learn to be more extroverted?  There are online advice and coaching services that you could access to help you to become more extroverted. It’s not easy but it is possible. Here are some tips:

  • Act the part of an extravert until it becomes natural to you
  • Understand and see the positive in extroverts
  • Practice lots of little extravert acts- start a conversation with a stranger
  • Give yourself time to recharge
  • Join a speaking group or test yourself by volunteering to give presentations

3. Innovation & Openness to Experience

Innovation generally means introducing either a brand new concept or finding a solution to a problem. This could be a new way of working, developing a new product or moving into a new customer market.  Innovative employees often demonstrate qualities such as:

  • Being open to change
  • A solution-focus
  • Persistence
  • Proactivity
  • Curiosity
  • Aspiration

Companies value innovation and employees who are open to change as this leads to the development of new products, improved efficiency and responding to customer needs. Ultimately leading to a competitive edge and greater business success. Innovation is important in most sectors, but roles that require particularly high levels of innovation include marketing, any kind of design role and engineering.

Here are some top tips to improve your innovation skills:

  • Question everything- ask why things are done a certain way, look for answers on the internet, speak to people who know more than you
  • Jot down your thoughts- keeping your ideas in one place helps you to see emerging patterns and make associations
  • Seek out new experiences- volunteer for projects at work, travel, join a social club, read a new book
  • Take risks and make mistakes- it’s all about learning and pushing boundaries

4. Risk Aversion

Risk aversion is a preference for a known outcome rather than taking a gamble. This does not mean that risk-averse people don’t take any gambles at all. It means that the risk will be carefully considered. Risk-averse people will apply the rules of ‘acceptable losses’ to any gamble.  This means not betting more than they can expect in return, nor betting more than they can afford to lose. The assets you risk could refer to money, time, professional or personal reputation and opportunities. Entrepreneurs often considered the opposite of risk-averse, work very hard to limit risks to these assets.

It’s often thought that being risk-averse is bad for business as it stifles innovation and creativity. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Being risk-averse can help you to make good decisions and reduce potentially costly mistakes within your company. Jobs that benefit from risk aversion include regulator or audit roles, finance and data scientists for example.

To develop risk aversion or an acceptable loss mindset you need to:

  • develop the skills to collect relevant data
  • evaluate potential courses of action
  •  improve your decision-making skills. 
  • discuss your decision-making process and potential decisions with peers, your line manager or family/friends for constructive feedback and alternative perspectives.

5. Attention to Detail

Possessing good attention to detail means that you are thorough, accurate and minimize mistakes. This results in increased quality of your work and improved productivity. Attention to detail can be demonstrated across most areas of work, including written materials (emails, reports, records), working with numbers (accounts, handling money), completing a process (administration, design, building work or production).

Employers value attention to detail – traits and competencies – as it improves efficiency, reduces mistakes, minimizes loss and improves their reputation. Attention to detail is particularly important in fields such as accountancy, pharmacology, programming and proofreading/editing.

You can develop your attention to detail through guidance and support from colleagues and managers. You could read online advice about best practices. You could also play focus-enhancing games. But ultimately it comes down to hands-on practice. Here are some top tips:

  • Get organized, make lists and allow enough time
  • Be present- focus on the task at hand
  • Take regular breaks
  • Minimize distractions
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Ask for help

6. Teamwork

Teamwork is the ability to interact and cooperate with a group of people to achieve the desired goal. Communication skills and a positive mindset contribute to your teamwork abilities.

Nearly all job roles will require you to work with others. Being able to work effectively as a team to deliver goals is essential to the success of any business. Jobs where teamwork is especially important include Human resources, law enforcement, IT, operations and marketing.

A great deal of research has been conducted into effective teamwork, such as Belbin’s nine team roles. The research shows that individuals take on a preferred role in a team, and it is the mix and cohesion of these different roles that result in success. You can take a free test online to find out what team role suits you best and use this information to develop your knowledge and skills in this area. You can then put this knowledge into practice in your current role through involvement in projects or your everyday personal life. Even something as simple as planning a friend’s birthday party requires successful teamwork!

7. Judgement and Decision making

Decision-making is the ability to identify a problem and assess the options available based on the data available, your knowledge and previous experience.  Following assessment, you then arrive at an appropriate and timely solution.   Decisions then need to be reviewed to consider their effectiveness, any changes needed and learning from the experience.

Companies value good decision-making – traits and competencies – as efficient and successful judgment saves time and resources. Good decision-making reduces risks that could affect profitability, efficiency and company reputation. This is particularly important during times of high pressure. Jobs that particularly require decision-making skills include health and social care professions, lawyers, business managers, and air traffic controllers.

Through free online courses or independent research, you can learn the 7 steps of the decision-making progress (Recognize, Research, Generate Evaluate, Select, Implement, Observe). You can then re-evaluate recent decisions you have made to see how you used the process and where you can improve. It’s always beneficial to ask others for their opinions such as from colleagues, your manager or a mentor within the workplace, education or personal life.

8. Effective communication

Effective communication means the ability to give and receive communication with the intended audience. It also means, listening and questioning to ensure two-way communication.  Non-verbal communication such as body language, tone of voice and eye contact are also important skills. Written communication is also key in the digital age where the majority of communication takes place via emails or other messaging technology.

Effective communication – traits and competencies – underpins all aspects of a business. Working with others is essential for a business to operate successfully. Good communication reduces conflict and enhances effective working between individuals and within teams. Communication is also essential for an excellent customer experience and building trust with external partners.  Effective communication is especially important in roles such as customer care, public relations, human resources and marketing.

You can develop your communication skills through part-time jobs such as customer service roles or volunteering opportunities. You could also ask a colleague or your manager for feedback on your communication styles to aid improvement. There are many online training courses to support your communication skills.

9. Adaptability

Adaptability means the ability to change. Adapting to changes in the work environment could include updated processes, changes to organizational structure, innovative IT systems, different customers or new colleagues.

Most organizations are in a state of continual change and improvement. Being adaptable means you will easily and successfully accept change. Therefore reducing the time required to change and maintaining high levels of performance.  Adaptability also means that you will keep up with the pace of change, so your skills will always be relevant and you will be a valuable and productive employee. Jobs that require high levels of adaptability are teachers, IT systems managers, business managers and healthcare professionals.

You can improve your adaptability by regularly doing something out of your comfort zone, either at work or in your social life.  You could try something small each day such as learn a new skill, research a new way to overcome a problem or reflect and improve upon the way you respond to minor changes. 

10. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is the ability to analyze problems and opportunities from a broad perspective, i.e. seeing the ‘bigger picture.  Strategic thinkers can identify the potential impact of their decisions and plan how to get to their goals.   Strategic thinking is often associated with senior leaders, but the ability to understand the wider business impact of your actions is a valuable skill for employees at all levels.

In business, new trends grow rapidly, and failure to take advantage of opportunities means companies fall behind.  Employees who think strategically will become more skilled at forecasting and capitalizing on new trends for business success.  On an individual level, strategic thinking enables employees to be more productive, responsive and valuable to an organization.

Strategic thinking is particularly important in fields such as research and development, data analysis, marketing, management and financial advice and planning.

Strategic thinking – traits and competencies – is a key topic in leadership development and there are many resources available including books, online resources and workshops.  You can learn the theory behind strategic thinking and apply this skill in your current role. You could also work with your line manager or mentor to help you to understand the strategy of your company and how your role contributes.

11. Goal Orientation

Being goal-orientated means you are focused on completing tasks to reach specified outcomes. Someone who is goal-driven will set targets for their work, have a plan of what they want to achieve and stay motivated to reach their objectives.

Companies value this because being focused on goals delivers results. Focusing on goals means employees plan their time efficiently and don’t waste time on tasks that will not achieve their desired outcomes. Meaning companies get more productive and cost-efficient employees who add to their bottom line.

Jobs that require high levels of goal-orientation include sales, IT support and business management.

There is a lot of advice to be found in this area in business and leadership books, online research, online free goal-setting exercises and of course formal training opportunities.

Top tips for building your goal orientation skills include:

  • Separate large goals into smaller steps
  • Plan your time
  • Set priorities
  • Track your progress
  • Be accountable (to a friend or a co-worker)
  • Seek feedback
  • Stay positive!

12. Leadership

Leadership does not always mean autocratic management and being the ‘boss’- although this is something you could aspire to further in your career. Leadership means the ability to guide, motivate or inspire others to reach a goal or complete a task.  It also means enabling teamwork, listening to feedback and being aware of individual needs to maintain a cohesive and productive team. You can demonstrate leadership qualities, even if you’re not a line manager, within your team.

Leadership skills are important to an organization as they help to keep work on track and deliver goals. Employees with leadership skills may also be the senior managers of the future, ensuring the further success of the organization.  Leadership skills are particularly required in roles such as project manager, operations manager, human resources, business manager, and customer services manager.

Leadership skills can be learned through online training or formal qualifications. You can also develop your leadership skills by taking on extra projects at work or in your social clubs.

Talentprise uses data-driven candidate matching based on an assessment of 12 values and motivations, and 12 traits and competencies. A unique ranking system based on 5 pillars: Education, Experience, Expertise, Skills, and Competencies. Making sure the right candidates can be found quickly. Good for recruiters and candidates alike.

Sign up for a Talentprise account today to get immediate access to this tremendous talent sourcing experience.

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