Competencies Employers Want

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Nov 8, 2010 in , , | 2 Comments

Ten Basic Competencies

1.) Attitude/Optimism/Passion

2.) Building Relationships/Teamwork/Interpersonal Skills

3.) Communication (Verbal/Written)

4.) Customer Service

5.) Honesty/Ethics/Integrity

6.) Flexibility/Adaptability

7.) Independence/Self-Motivation/Initiative

8.) Problem Solving

9.) Reliability/Responsibility

10.) Time Management

There are many competencies an employer wants in an employee, the list above gives the basics. The higher up the ladder you go, the more is expected of you by your employer. Below each competency is discussed in detail.


An employee who possesses these will be someone that comes to work ready to do their job in a way that is visible to employer, other employees and customers. This employee leaves their personal problems at home and enters the doors to the workplace wanting to perform their tasks at the highest level with a positive attitude. You like (and even love) what you do for a living. No employer wants a negative employee with a bad attitude towards their job, coworkers and customers.

Building Relationships/Teamwork/Interpersonal Skills

Employers expect their workers to get along while doing their job. This means you will have to find a way to deal with people from all walks of life–some you may not like–but you must work with them regardless. When coworkers combine their efforts as a team to get a job done, their skills, experience and training are utilized. Personality clashes are common, so learn how to handle them in a mature, professional manner. This does not mean accepting inappropriate behavior, which should always be reported.

Communication (Verbal/Written)

Most jobs require a certain amount of written and verbal communication with customers and other employees. Understanding proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, along with legible handwriting is essential. Communication, written or verbal, should not be abbreviated as you would in a text message. Slang, cursing and any wordage that may be taken as sexual harassment should never be used in your workplace communications.

Customer Service

“The customer is always right” was a phrase used for many years by a large number of business owners in this country. Basically, it was a way for the business owner to keep a customer happy–and coming back– whether they were right or wrong. But, customer service goes beyond that, it is important for an employee to respect the customer in a way that lets them know they are valued. Smiling, saying hello, and then providing the best service, is what that respect encompasses. Think of it this way; if you were the customer, how would you like to be treated?


Most employers will place these three words at the top of their list for employee must-haves. Honest people are trusted people. If an employer trusts you, they will value you, and that equates to raises and promotions. These three also apply to your dealings with coworkers and customers. A customer will never return, and a coworker will always be leery of you, if you have been dishonest with them. If you spend time on non-work related websites, it is not only dishonest, it is one of the top reasons why employers fire employees. Remember, many employers monitor what goes on in their computer systems, that includes your private e-mails.


Employers want to know their employees can move and change, when necessary, to accommodate company needs. They want you to take on whatever is asked of you when asked. Sometimes this means a physical move to a different location, other times it can mean stepping up when a co-worker is ill and taking on their responsibilities.


Employees need to know what is expected of them, do it well, with little or no supervision. Understanding what needs to be accomplished, solving problems and following through in a timely manner–that’s taking the initiative. When you motivate yourself to do your job, take the initiative to do it well, and work without supervision, you are on your way to being a model employee.

Problem Solving

When problems arise, an employee is expected to do their best to solve them before seeking out a supervisors assistance. Using common sense, your training, and other experience, you should be able to deal with most problems independently.


If an employer knows you show up to work everyday, on time, and ready to work, that shows you are reliable and responsible. No employer wants to hire an employee that habitually shows up late (or not at all) with an array of excuses. Being responsible, you own up to what you do, and never place the blame elsewhere.

Time Management

You are expected to get a certain amount of work completed, in a designated amount of time, or you won’t be doing your job effectively. Here is where organizing and prioritizing comes in handy. Look at what you have to do, list in order of importance. Begin working on the first item, then work your way down the list. If you spend too much time on the first item, you may never get to the second item, so plan your time well. Socializing with coworkers during office hours, or friends and family on the phone, is frowned upon by employers since this wastes valuable time.


As you can see by what is listed above, an employer wants to make sure they have hired the right person for the job. Your part is proving to them they have made a wise choice. By following the advice above, you are on your way to being a successful and valuable worker.

By honing your skills, taking on more duties and working well with your co-workers, you will find promotions and raises are on your horizon. Again, you are proving your “value” to the person who supervises your work.

Learning a good work ethic early on in your career is a valuable lesson that will serve you well in the future.

©2009 Judy Anne Cavey, who resides in the S.F. Bay Area of California is a credentialed, certified, higher education instructor who taught Work Experience/Cooperative Education and ESL at three community colleges. She is also a freelance writer and grant writer currently authoring a textbook, has designed other learning programs, and worked with several nonprofits. Her Edublog, “Work Experience”, is a not-for-profit endeavor designed to assist job seekers of all ages.