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10 Things Recruiters Look for in a Job Candidate

With unemployment support ending in many states, there are numerous incentives to get people back and working again. It takes more than just fulfilling a job’s list of requirements to get hired with a highly competitive job market upon us.

Recruiters now look for qualifications beyond the open position itself and can scale across more than one job title. Whether looking for a salesperson or manufacturing professional, some of the more sought-after traits a recruiter searches for in a job candidate are universal. So, what exactly are recruiters looking for?

Fast Learners

Industries and specific jobs change over time, and employees must be willing to adapt by learning new and different skills. For example, data plays an important role in so many industries and has taken off over the last few years. Job candidates who recognize, embrace, and grasp this are more appealing than those who don’t.


This trait often shines through in an interview based on the questions asked. Intelligent, well-thought-out questions will prove a job candidate’s dedication to researching a position or industry. A job candidate’s curiosity translates to genuine interest.


A well-researched interview screams ambition. On their actual resume, a job candidate who lists achievements, showcasing their level of performance and the goals they’ve reached, is a result of ambition. Job candidates who do their homework show interest in growing with the company and are the ones employers want to invest in.

Future Thinkers

Job candidates who speak with the future in mind won’t accept stagnancy. These potential employees pursue learning and growth, possibly seeking out online courses. When someone thinks about their next position, they most likely think of what skills they will need in the future and find opportunities to develop that growth. This drive will make job candidates better interviewees because those who have taken online courses perform better in interviews.


Employers want the type of person who celebrates as a team but is willing to accept responsibility when things fall short. Recruiters abide by the “there’s no I in team” mantra. Job candidates should own it when they are a part of a shortcoming. Interviewers will discover this by asking during an interview about previous experience with overcoming failure. Passing the buck isn’t what they are looking for in response. Passing the buck isn’t what they are looking for in response.


Taking all of the courses in the world to develop technical skills showcases a drive, but that isn’t everything. The skills to be a good leader are what CEOs and higher-ups pursue. Soft skills like this give someone the ability to lead a team and inspire others.


If a job candidate is passionate about a company or position, recruiters jump at the opportunity to interview. Passionate people are driven to perform, and passion is something that cannot be trained.


This trait doesn’t mean living in La-La Land or being unrealistic. It simply means someone with energy, optimism, and a good attitude. A positive job candidate takes a challenging situation and works through it, learns from it, and recognizes the positives that come along with it – even if it’s unplanned or less-than-ideal.

Similar Values

Fitting into the culture of a company cannot be overstated. Sometimes that ability means more than checking off the actual job requirements. Having a job candidate who fits the mold of what a company stands for helps to make the onboarding process smoother and the overall fit stronger.


A reliable job candidate is trusted and can expect certain behaviors from within the workforce. This trait gives a recruiter an idea of what a job candidate will contribute or how they will act in specific situations. Having an employee you can always count on removes unwanted surprises.

What other job candidate qualities do you think recruiters consider? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out Explaining Red Flags on Your Resume.