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11 things employers look for when hiring

4 min, 31 sec read
13:15 PM | 6 June 2014
by Adam Oldfield
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We talk to employers all the time about things they want to see in applicants (whether that's for jobs, placements, grad schemes or anything else).  This is not an exhaustive list but these are the reoccurring themes that come up over and over again from those who have the hiring power. And they're applicable to all job roles in the creative industries.

1. Curiosity

Curiosity didn’t killed the cat. It was framed by that no good, rotten scoundrel indifference. You should take an interest in just about everything. Question the world around, from asking informed questions at an interview to trying to figure out why the hell men have nipples. A curious mind opens you up to all sorts of things. Firstly, it proves to employers that you're really interested in them and their agency. It shows that you will really interrogate a brief when it comes in and not just blindly follow a client's orders. And it provides you with a wealth of knowledge of interesting and silly things that will almost certainly come in handy during a career in the creative industries. In fact, curiosity is so important that it's not just on the wish list of employer's, it's often part of the job requirements.

2. Collaborative

Almost every project relies on teaming up with others at some point. Even when you have individual tasks to do, they're usually the result of a team brainstorming session and will always form part of a larger piece that multiple people are working on. Being collaborative is all about knowing how to get the best out of everyone in your team, utilising individual skills and strengths effectively. Saying "I'm a team player" on your CV won't cut it. You have to prove it. Create some collaborative projects or work and show it off to employers.

3. Time management

Being efficient with your time is something you will always work on, it’s not a trait people learn over night. Only after working across projects and understanding where best to put your hours, days and weeks does it make sense. Make sure employers can see you’re organised, turn up on time to interviews (if not a little early) and be prompt in replying to emails and calls.

4. Communication skills

Not only being able to articulate yourself well in conversations, communication is integral to good working relationships and employers will quickly see this when first meeting you. If you’re a little nervous, pretend your talking to a friend and talk as if you were to them.

5. Writing skills

With most people in an agency now involved in client communication, it’s a skill that most employers will be looking out for in your covering letters, CVs and emails to them. Not everyone needs to be Shakespeare, but having decent grammar, sentence structure and spelling really do matter. Be sure to proof read everything.

6. Being proactive

Never stop and stare. Breaks are vital but be sure to take any opportunity to improve work, look at other projects around you and those others inside an agency might working on. Kieran Child and his creative partner on their first few weeks at Table19 would scavenge the printing machine for briefs that people would leave. The duo would then take this and come up with some ideas to the disbelief of the accounts team running the pitch. This is one of the single most important traits to have, hard work will take you far.

7. Resilient under pressure

There’s no need to collapse when the pressure arrives. With exams it's there, with finding a job too, and it will not disappear once you land a job in an agency. Take breaks from your work, go for walks, meditate, listen to music, play ping pong, do whatever you must to relax.

8. Problem solving

Problems and solutions are everywhere, think constructively and always talk about ways you may have overcome a problem by slipping a story of yours into an interview or chat with an employer.

9. Showing an interest

Many companies don’t receive interest from talented people all the time, so when they do, they sit up and take note. You can do this by going all out to apply to just one company (like Isabella did to land a job at Naked or Kathy's attempt to get Airbnb to hire her) or simply by asking lots of questions at interviews.

10. Good listener

Blah, blah, blah. Make sure you’re not the one always talking, it’s much better to listen and provide your input when necessary than to ramble on.

11. Passion

We’re sorry. This word is an overused, horrible cliché when it comes to job applications. But that's probably because it's such a key thing that employers, across the board, look for. Employers want to see fire in your eyes because they know that if you love your job, you'll always work hard and produce better results than anyone who is just there to stamp their time sheet and get paid. It's not enough to just say you are passionate. Roughly 90% of the population has that word on their CVs and it's therefore become entirely meaningless. Show employers your passion with creative projects, keeping up to date with your industry and, going back to number nine, showing an interest.

If you can bring all these together across the work you do and the way you present yourself, you’ll be well on your way to convincing employers you’re their next hire.

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