Nine Traits Of An Ideal Employee (And How To Attract Them To Your Company)

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Amid millions of employees quitting their jobs at record rates, companies are desperately searching for top talent to join their teams. As businesses look to strengthen their workforce, they must also figure out the best ways to attract ideal candidates.

While there’s no shortage of talent in the workforce today, there are a few ideal traits leaders hope to find in an employee. Below, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council share some of the qualities they look for in their ideal employees and what businesses can do to attract them.

Young Entrepreneur Council members discuss traits of ideal employees.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Self-Sufficiency

There’s no greater tug on a team’s energy (an opportunity cost measured in time) than employees who need a significant amount of cajoling, hand-holding and/or active management to execute and unblock themselves. The ideal team member applies research, critical thinking and investigation to come up with solutions and answers to even the most challenging issues with minimal dependence on their manager or colleagues to “give” them the answer. Look for talent that has spent time successfully doing some independent freelancing (where there’s no one to hand you the answer) or that has noteworthy independent side projects. Both signal ability to independently execute and be creative. – Jake Goldman, 10up Inc.

2. Adaptability

One thing that remains constant is that everything is always changing. Having an employee who is adaptable is important in finding the flow and balance of the company. It is much easier and more valuable to have someone say, “Okay, here we are! Let’s get to it,” than one who says, “Well, this is different and I don’t like it.” Adaptability is the key to figuring out solutions and moving on from problems. Without that, it is too easy to get stuck in a no-progress zone. – Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo

3. Integrity

My ideal employee has integrity. By “integrity” I mean that the person is ethical in business and personal affairs, is realistic about their abilities, has the humility to admit mistakes and has the intelligence to learn from them. To find employees with integrity, during the interview process, you can ask potential hires to describe past mistakes they’ve made on the job and what they learned from those mistakes. Someone with integrity will readily admit fault, and they won’t try to shift blame to other workers. They will always speak highly of past employers, even if they were terminated from a job. Without exception, anyone who trash talks about a previous job or employer lacks integrity. – Kyle Michaud, Carolina Dozer

4. Dedication

The kind of employee I prefer is one who seeks to rise above and beyond, learn from their mistakes and increase their output. My best employees are those who have stayed with the business to improve themselves and the team, and those who care about more than the daily tasks or monthly projects. They want to add more to the company so that we become a community rather than a conglomeration of website development, migration, copywriting and marketing. To attract this kind of employee, create a welcoming environment, whether in-person or remote. Show your appreciation for hard work, and provide regular feedback. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

5. Responsibility

As an employer, you don’t want to work with people who need you to hold their hands every step of the way. While it’s critical to offer support to legitimate concerns, you’ll find yourself wasting a lot of time if you have to check up on your employees every day and see if your goals are being met. The best employees are responsible—not only because they believe in doing a good job, but also because they don’t want management peering over their shoulder. Make sure that you create KPIs and offer adequate training. Also, enable your employees to support each other by answering questions in group channels. You can make sure that you hire responsible people by listing this trait as a “must-have” in your job description. Reinforce this message during interviews too. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

6. Motivation

If I had to choose one word to describe my perfect employee, it would be “motivated.” I love it when people are passionate about what they do and have the drive to improve themselves and help the people around them. One way to find and attract this type of candidate is to spend time on LinkedIn. I found that highly motivated professionals look for open jobs on this platform. If you share your job openings, engage with other industry experts and have clear contact links, you’ll have no problem finding motivated employees for your business. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

7. Pragmatism

We are all inundated with so much theory-based knowledge these days that it takes someone pragmatic to jump from what should’ve worked to what can practically work in this situation. Being practical is hard because you’re not doing what you’re taught, but you’re going to take a risk, which can fail. To find this kind of employee, companies can do situation-based testing to check what the individual says and how they think. Case studies work great here because rather than just a few lines, you immerse them in a relevant situation. This also shows you the way they approach a problem, how carefully they evaluate options and, more importantly than the end result, how they got to the solution. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

8. Honesty

I can personally deal with slow learners or some baggage; however, I can’t work with dishonest people. Even if someone has all the talent in the world, if they don’t have integrity and authenticity, I can’t trust them, which harms my business and relationships. To find honest employees, you should make honesty a part of your core brand image. Honest people want to work for honest companies. To be an honest company, make sure your products are created ethically. You can also make sure your messaging is free of unconscious racism or prejudice. Personally, I always strive to give back to the community to show that we care and are authentic. – Shu Saito, All Filters

9. Resourcefulness

I believe that the best employees are resourceful because they’re able to find creative solutions to problems. They’re also proactive and always looking for ways to improve things. To find and attract resourceful employees, businesses should make their recruitment messages focused on challenges and problem-solving. You should also look for candidates who have a track record of going above and beyond in their previous roles. Finally, you should create a work environment that fosters creativity and innovation. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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