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Willingness to learn key to success

Employers are seeking employees who are willing to learn new skills and improve current skill sets. This is an admirable trait in a prospective employee that will set him/her apart from other applicants. Regardless of the level of position in the business or the salary of the position, employers are attracted to applicants and employees who are open and willing to continue learning and development.

In interviewing employers of many small businesses there was a consistency regarding the traits they seek in employees. Often these traits are hard to find making job searches challenging. Following is a summary of skills in demand.

1. Basic skills to do the job — Employers are seeking employees who are smart, capable, dependable, desirous of dong a good job and willing to learn. This is true for all levels of positions from front line to operations, cashiers to managers, in both large and small companies.

2. Customer service skills — being friendly, courteous, having good manners and being respectful of others are lacking in many applicants today. Hiring managers want to ensure they are hiring people who will represent them positively and also ensure that customers are treated well.

3. Good attitude — Treating all people with dignity and respect is basic. A focus on the business and its customers will make the employee more valuable to the employer. No one knows it all and regardless of the amount of education and experience a person has, learning should be continuous.

4. Taking an interest in the business — Being more than an employee who is working only for payday but one who cares about the success of the business will set you apart. Being willing to learn with zest and enthusiasm will open the door for additional opportunities with more responsibility and higher pay.

5. Goal for higher performance — laziness and apathy do not make an applicant attractive as a new hire. Rewards come to those who perform at or above expectations. Set goals for yourself and assess your progress.

6. Dependability and conscientiousness — These are becoming rare qualities, along with a sense of loyalty. You can set yourself apart and build value with your employer by exhibiting these much sought after traits.

7. True desire to work. — Work is not a dirty four-letter word. It is one of the most satisfying things a person can do. Since most people spend more waking hours on the job than with their families at home your job should be rewarding, fulfilling and enjoyable. If it is not, quit, and find a job where you like what you do and can be proud of the company you work for.

8. Desire and willingness to learn — Learning about the business, its products and services will make the person a better employee and build value with the employer. Reading, participating in seminars, attending training sessions, etc. will keep you fresh and on top of your game. Asking for help, listening to those with more experience is an easy on-the-job method of expanding your knowledge.

If you are an employee who wants to stand out above the crowd, it is left up to you. You can stand head and shoulders above the pack by being committed to top performance. Going above and beyond the basic requirements of the job, being willing to do whatever is asked of you, treating customers and co-workers like you’d like to be treated, offering and volunteering to help others, having a good attitude and putting a smile on your face will make you stand out.

Business owners and managers are stretched thin as they are forced to cover so many parts of an ongoing business when they can’t find qualified applicants to hire. There are limited job openings in many markets, but the real shortage today is not job openings, but people who have the skills and abilities to perform in positions. Regardless of the economy there will always be a demand for employees who epitomize the positive characteristics outlined above. Are you an employee working just for a paycheck or are you always looking for ways to improve? Take a hard look at yourself introspectively to reveal any issues you may have preventing your success. It is left up to the individual to decide what kind of employee they want to be and whether to become a top performer in a fulfilling career with a future

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.