Are you an ideal employee?

It’s a fair question, whether you’re looking for a job or you’re settled in with a job.

This articles describes 15 traits of the ideal employee. It’s a great list for prospective employers as they evaluate job candidates, but it’s also a great checklist for those of us looking for a job. What can we do to add more value to our company? Here are the first two items on the list:

1. Action-oriented – Hire employees who take action and take chances. While chances may lead to failure, they will more often lead to success and mold confidence while generating new ideas. Stagnant employees won’t make your company money; action-oriented employees will.

2. Intelligent – Intelligence is not the only thing, but it’s a strong foundation for success. While there are many variables you can be flexible on when hiring, intelligence is a must or you’re going to be spending an abundance of time proofing work, micromanaging and dealing with heightened stress levels.

The term “problem solver” isn’t on this list, though many of the attributes point to this quality. It’s important to be able to identify problems, but the best employees will help you solve them and also take the initiative where appropriate.

As you look for a new job and prepare for interviews, keep this list in mind.


Dressing for an Interview: What’s Appropriate, What’s Not

First impressions are everything, especially in today’s competitive job market. There are dozens, if not hundreds of applicants for any given position, so the first impression you make has to be a lasting one. By the time you are called in for an interview, you can assume that you already look pretty good on paper to the employer. However, according to a recent Forbes Woman article, one tiny detail can have a big impact when it comes to securing the job. And what you wear has a lot to do with it.

According to a recent study by associate professor of psychology at Oregon State University Frank Bernieri, Ph.D., your interviewer decides within 10 seconds of meeting you whether or not you’re right for the job. If you put the right amount of effort into putting a polished look together, you are more likely to be hired than someone that did not.

So, what’s appropriate for an interview and what’s not? The most appropriate style for an interview is conservative. You just can’ t go wrong with this look. What you should never do is wear too tight or ill-fitting clothes, and women should never show cleavage or wear see through garments. If you wear a skirt, fishnets or patterned stockings are a huge no. Women should wear light makeup (if you wear makeup at all) and hair should be neat and clean. Mohawks, cornrows, excessive hair accessories, and multi-colored hair are all no-nos. It’s also a good idea to cover  tattoos or piercings, especially if the piercings are in unusual places such as the eyebrows or lip.

Men should follow the same rules for piercings and tattoos, and stick to button-downs and slacks when it comes to attire. A tie would be a great way to top things off.  A Polo shirt and slacks or khakis are fine for a date, but not for an interview.

While these are general guidelines for interviews, you should also consider the type of business you’re interviewing with. For example, strict conservative is great for conservative businesses, but it’s perfectly ok to go a little trendier (but still polished) for say, an advertising or graphic design firm. A few tweaks here and there can go a long way. For conservative businesses, opt for closed-toe shoes. For creative businesses sling-back heels are hipper, but they still look polished.

So where can you shop for the right interview clothes without breaking the bank? Both men and women can try Marshall’s, TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack. During your shopping trip, just remember this: Forbes author Laura Sinberg writes “proper attire for an interview will create a halo effect, meaning your interviewer will see you in a positive light and forgive any minor gaffes you make.”

For a quick slideshow to get an idea of what’s appropriate for an interview and what’s not, read Dress for Interview Success at


10 Reasons Employers Won’t Hire You

Sad Businessman

You curse. You lie. You think nothing of posting risqué photos of yourself on social networking sites. These are just three of the reasons why employer’s won’t hire you. A 2009 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 47 percent of employers said that finding qualified applicant’s is their biggest hiring challenge. The survey also stated that employers are looking for multitaskers, candidates that take initiative, and those with a talent for creative problem solving. What they don’t want are cocky and disinterested candidates with no long-term potential. Their words – not ours! Other turn-offs for potential employers include:

  • -Not knowing anything about the company
  • -Being too personal
  • -Bringing up salary before the employer
  • -Can’t provide examples of accomplishments
  • -Lack of experience

If you want to learn more about things not to do to impress a potential employer, read more about the survey here.


Want to Get Past the First Interview? Cover the Tattoo!


Most employers in the corporate world would say, as long as our clients, customers, and colleagues can’t see them, tattoos are perfectly fine in the workplace. Still, a growing number of tattoo fans feel that body art won’t affect their chances of getting a job, whether they it be seen or not. Although tattoos are as mainstream as ever, unfortunately, they can be a detriment in the workplace. According to a recent report:

Employment experts, like Pam Vizer from the Polaris Career Center in Middleburg Heights, say the growing popularity of tattoos doesn’t mean they are accepted in the workplace.  “If it’s distracting to the interviewer, then they’re not going to learn who you are and why you might be a good hire for them,” Vizer said.

Vizer also urged all employees to be aware of company dress codes. “There are different grooming and dress codes — and grooming and dress codes are completely legal,” she said.

In the end, whether it is a lifestyle choice or not, freedom of expression, or whatever the point is, in the conservative white collar world (and many professions in the blue collar world), you will be judged if you waltz into a job interview covered in tattoos, but even worse is, you probably won’t get the job.

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Common Myths and Misconceptions About Job Interviews

Job Interview

A recent Forbes report has helped ease the fears of the millions of job seekers that march out the door each day in hopes of acing that all-important interview. What most interviewees don’t realize is, even the interviewer can be nervous, distracted, ill-prepared, and a host of other things that can affect the way they ask questions and respond to your answers.

For your reading pleasure, Forbes has compiled a top ten list of “things” that are considered to be common myths of job interviewing. So, the thing to take away from this article is this: don’t go home after your interview and waste time and energy raking every word you said over the coals, because what you didn’t say or do might actually seal the deal for you.

1. The interviewer is prepared.
The person interviewing you is likely harried and overworked, because he needs to hire someone. He may have barely glanced at your résumé and given no thought to your qualifications.

2. The interviewer asks good questions.
Many interviewers prepare no questions in advance beyond “Tell me about yourself.” “They usually just wing it,” says David Couper, a Los Angeles career and executive coach and the author of Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career … Even When You Don’t Fit In.

3. They want you to accept their offer of refreshment.
Interviewers feel obliged to be polite and offer you a drink, but they do not really want to go fetch that cup of tea.

4. The interviewer wants additional materials like references.
Unless you’re a designer or writer, the interviewer does not want you to hand over reports or reference materials.

5. There’s a right answer to an interviewer’s question.
When you’re asked a tough question, the interviewer is usually more interested in seeing how you go about addressing it than in precisely what you end up saying.

6. You should keep your answers short.
The interviewer doesn’t want to have to think of another question to ask you. “If you’re giving information that’s hitting what they need to know, then they’re happy,” says Couper.

7. Hiring managers value skills over physical attractiveness.
There’s a lot of research that demonstrates that looks do matter, Couper says. What should an unattractive job seeker do? “Plastic surgery,” he deadpans.

8. When they ask where you want to be in five years, they want you to demonstrate ambition.
What they really want: your willingness to toil away at the same job happily and indefinitely.

9. If you’re invited to an interview, the job is still open.
Frequently hiring managers just go through the motions of interviewing candidates after having picked an inside applicant or someone with a personal connection to the company.

10. The most qualified person gets the job.
Couper himself says he’s hired less qualified but friendlier applicants over more talented job seekers who seemed they might be difficult to get along with. 


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