The 2 Traits Managers Want In Their Next Hire

How do employers make the final decision between two equally qualified candidates? A new CareerBuilder survey has the surprising answer.
September 03, 2013

Having the right skills and experience is often the clincher when it comes to giving a job offer. But what if two job candidates have comparable resumes?

It may come down to who has the better laugh or the bigger heart.

A new survey by job search engine CareerBuilder looks at what traits hiring managers value most when choosing between two equally qualified candidates. Surprisingly, the survey found an applicant’s sense of humor is most important, with 27 percent of the 2,076 hiring managers surveyed reporting it was the top factor they looked at beyond the resume. The second and third top qualities hiring managers said they seek are an applicant's community involvement (26 percent) and how well he or she dressed (22 percent). Near the bottom of the list of qualities sought are how involved the candidates are in social media (7 percent) and how knowledgeable they are about sports (4 percent).

The findings suggest that personality—and not ones directly related to the job itself—can be essential to landing a job. Employers, especially small ones, want workers who fit into their workplace culture and who suggest they are outgoing and can get along with other people. “Employers are not only looking for people who are professionally qualified for the position, but also someone who is going to fit in at the office,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder said in a news release.

Previous surveys that have looked at this question, however, have turned up rather different results. A 2012 survey by employer-branding consultant Universum found that professionalism, high energy and confidence were top qualities sought in new hires.

The new CareerBuilder survey also looked at what determines whether an employee will get promoted. It found that employees who refuse to do something because it’s not in their job description (“That’s not my job”) or those who show up late to work are least likely to get promoted.

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