What makes a truly amazing employee?
Someone who is a team player? With great time-management skills? And a positive attitude?
The thing is, most top-tier candidates will check all these boxes. They’re the soft skills that any high-quality professional candidate should have.
So, what makes someone stand out above the crowd? What are the less common, highly sought-after skills or character traits that turn a top candidate into a must-hire superstar?
Here are six underrated qualities that will tell you when you’ve got a spectacular employee on your hands.
They have unexpected skills for the job title
There are simply certain skill sets and personalities that are drawn to certain occupations. If you’re looking to hire a writer, for example, expectations for communication skills would be pretty high. But a highly technical IT job might not have the same requirements.
With that in mind, there is something truly extraordinary about job candidates who stand out in areas that are not necessarily expected for their field or position.
The writer who happens to be a numbers whiz. The web developer with a knack for communicating with clients. The customer service rep who also knows their way around Adobe.
You get the idea. You’ll be amazed at how well these employees can work cross-functionally with different departments.
They are diplomatic
Nobody gets along with everybody. When you put a bunch of different people in a workplace, there will always be individuals that mesh well.
Finding an employee who can manage to get along with everybody – even if they don’t like them personally – is considerably undervalued. And surprisingly uncommon. If you can find an individual that shows diplomacy, you’ve likely found someone that shows just the kind of maturity and professionalism that makes for a star employee.
They know when to take breaks
Think you want a workaholic on your team? Think again.
Studies have consistently shown the value of taking breaks, and taking vacation time. One study at the University of Illinois, for example, found that “brief mental breaks” improves focus and performance.
“Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused,” says Alejandro Lleras, who led the study. “From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task.”
In other words, truly stand-out employees know when they should take a break without you having to force it.
They are proactive
A good employee can quickly fix a problem when it happens to occur – that’s being reactive. A fantastic employee aims to prevent the problem before it occurs – that’s being proactive.
Once in a while, we’re blessed with that fantastic employee who can not only spot potential problems before they happen, but can suggest a way to prevent it. Be receptive and open to those proactive suggestions and you’ll soon see a payoff.
They can work independently
We don’t want to discount the value of someone who works well with a team. But sometimes you just need someone who can put their head down and get things done.
It comes in handy to have a highly skilled employee that can just take the reins and produce results without too much instruction or supervision – it means you can relax and focus on your own job.
Sure, it takes time to build that trust. But once you’ve got it, it makes life exponentially easier.
They aim to do better
Some people just inherently want to do better. They are always fiddling with things – streamlining a process, revising their work, enhancing their skills. And not because you ask them to – because that’s just how they are.
There’s something to be said for an employee who is never completely satisfied. They’ll bring a good-isn’t-good-enough to every project they touch.
When you find a candidate with these qualities, you’ve found an amazing employee.