11 Greatest Traits That Make an Awesome Employee

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - October 20, 2017
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Preparing to hit the job market after completing your degree program? If so, then you’re probably painstakingly aware of just how competitive the job market currently is—regardless of the industry in which you find yourself. There’s a good chance you’re also going through the tedious process of scoping out job opportunities and refining your resumé to make yourself as marketable as possible. In doing so, you’ll want to make sure you highlight some of your most compelling strengths as an employee. And while it’s no secret that any reputable employer is going to appreciate a punctual and dedicated worker, there are a few other less-obvious characteristics that you’ll want to bring to the table in order to have the best chances of landing that dream job and achieving long-term career success.

Featured Programs:
Sponsored School(s)

1. Ability to Lead

Leadership qualities are desirable in any industry and just about any position, even if you’ll be starting off at the “bottom of the food chain” or reporting to several superiors. If you’re a natural-born leader, you probably don’t think twice about taking the reins in a group project—but not everyone is born with natural leadership qualities. Fortunately, this is a characteristic that can be developed over time with the right training and experience. If you’re preparing for a career or position where leadership abilities are a primary focus, consider enrolling in a leadership academy or similar workshop to help you work your way towards more leadership opportunities.

2. Full of Integrity

Consider this for a moment: you’re looking to hire a baker to make a beautiful, intricate cake for your best friend’s surprise birthday party. You interview a baker who has decades of experience and whose cakes look phenomenal. However, after doing a bit of research online, you find several reviews accusing the baker of being dishonest about pricing or cutting corners with ingredients. No matter how beautiful the baker’s cakes looked in his or her portfolio, how likely are you to actually hire this person for the job? If you value honesty and integrity, you’re probably going to move right along and hire someone else. And if so, your thinking falls right in line with the majority of today’s employers. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are at doing your job; if you can’t be trusted, you’re probably not going to make it very far in your career.

3. Oozing Confidence

Have you ever heard the saying, “fake it ’til you make it?” It’s pretty accurate when you’re first starting off in the job force. In an entry-level position, there’s going to be a lot that you don’t necessarily know or understand—and every day is likely to bring new challenges and learning experiences. There may even be days in your new career where you feel like a fraud of sorts, and like you superiors are going to figure out at any time that you don’t belong.

However, it’s important to get these kinds of thoughts out of your head. First of all, they’re probably not true. Otherwise, how would you have landed your job in the first place? Secondly, these kinds of thoughts affect your self-esteem and confidence, and employers will notice a lack of confidence in employees and job applicants. By projecting an image of success, even if you’re not 100% feeling it, you’ll go further in your career.

4. Team-Oriented

Unless you plan on working as an independent contractor or freelancer, you’d be hard-pressed to find a position in just about any industry these days that doesn’t require you to be a “team player.” Even in positions where you spend most of your day inside an office or cubicle working on your own projects, there will likely be some component of your job that requires you to work with others and keep a team mindset at the forefront of what you do. Employers these days place a great deal of value on workers who are able to work autonomously when needed, but who always keep a sense of teamwork in mind and always have the greater good of the company as a top priority.

5. Ambitious

A little ambition will go a long way not only in helping you find work, but in working your way up the company ladder wherever you end up. Today’s employers like to see workers who are constantly looking to better themselves and make themselves more beneficial to the company. Whether this means going back and getting your MBA while working full-time or even taking advantage of company training opportunities available to you, showing a little ambition and initiative will get you far in any job. A great way to show ambition in the workplace is to go above and beyond what’s asked of you; for example, if you have free time after completing your tasks for the day, ask around to see if there’s anything else you can help with rather than leaving the office early or fiddling around on your phone. If a special training seminar is offered that could benefit you in your job performance, take advantage.

6. Open-Minded

A lot of prospective job candidates these days will describe themselves as being open-minded, but when push comes to shove, they remain set in their ways.  Being open-minded means not just being open to trying new things or learning new ways of doing things, but also being receptive to constructive criticism. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of people struggle. Being open-minded as an employee is beneficial in a number of ways. For starters, it shows your employer that you’re adaptable to change, which means they’ll be able to count on you in tumultuous or changing industry environments. Furthermore, open-mindedness makes you more likely to mesh well with other employees, which goes back to that whole bit about being a team player. If you’re too “set in your ways,” you may have a hard time working with others and will not be very adaptable in a changing industry.

7. Great at Communicating

Communication is so incredibly important in any industry; with today’s instant communications made possible by smartphones and the web, there’s really no excuse to lack communication skills in any position. Employers will place huge priority on communication skills for most positions, even if you don’t work with clients or the general public as part of your job. You’ll need to communicate regularly with other co-workers and people within the organization, so possessing great inter-personal communication skills is a must, whether it be over-the-phone, face-to-face, or via email. Many employees applying for jobs will list communication as a skill on their resumé, but will you be able to prove this?

8. Detail-Oriented

Having a strong attention to detail is never a bad trait to have; in fact, most employers would argue that it’s among the most important traits of a job candidate. When you’re detail-oriented, not only are you less likely to make mistakes, but you’ll do the most thorough work. Your managers and supervisors will know that they can rely on you in a pinch, and as a result, you may have more opportunities to prove yourself and your worth to the company. For some, being detail-oriented comes naturally, but others need to work at it consciously.

9. Self-Motivated

Being self-motivated is pretty closely related to being ambitious, though there are some distinctions between the two. A self-motivated employee is an autonomous employee. When you possess this skill, others can count on you to be given a basic set of guidelines and follow through on completing them without many questions asked or road blocks along the way. You don’t need to have someone breathing down your shoulder to make sure you get things done and meet your deadlines. Instead, it just goes without saying that you’ll take care of things and your employer can always rely on you.

10. Humble

Humbleness is rarely talked about as an “awesome” job trait to have, but it’s probably one of the most important characteristics of a great worker. People who are humble are not arrogant and they do not claim responsibility for work they didn’t complete. Instead, they see their efforts as part of the greater good and enjoy recognizing those around them. Rather than demanding attention or recognition for something, they’re more likely to keep a level-head and keep on trucking. Humble workers don’t let stress or other workplace drama get to them, which is understandably important to any employer.

11. Experienced

This one might seem a little too obvious, but it’s a trait that shouldn’t be overlooked. Experience is key when it comes to applying for a job and being successful in a position. However, experience doesn’t always relate directly to a college degree; some of the best experience you can bring to the table at a new job is experience that is applied from past work or other life situations that may not seem obviously related otherwise. Being able to adapt past experiences to a new job will serve you well in the long run. Of course, the right training, academics, and skills on paper will never hurt.

While these are just a handful of some of the most important traits today’s employers tend to look for when hiring a new worker, this is by no means an exhaustive list. And remember: possessing these traits isn’t always enough; you’ll also need to prove to your prospective employer that you possess them on paper and in-person (such as in a job interview). If you can do that, you’ll drastically increase your chances of securing an offer.


  • Doyle, A. (2017, January 6). Job interview question: are you self motivated? Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/job-interview-question-are-you-a-self-motivator-2064064
  • Ellis, A. (2016, February 29). Being open-minded at work and why it matters. Retrieved from http://www.ashleyellis.com/2016/02/being-open-minded-at-work-and-why-it-matters/
  • Smykal, E. (2016, January 5). 7 qualities of a good employee and candidate (according to research). Retrieved from https://www.jibe.com/ddr/7-qualities-of-a-good-employee-and-candidate-according-to-research/
  • The Muse. (2015, November 9). 7 ways to start building your leadership skills today. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2015/11/19/7-ways-to-start-building-your-leadership-skills-today-no-matter-where-you-are-on-the-ladder/#74bfc1861325
  • Waghmare, A. (2017, May 26). Importance of self confidence. Retrieved from http://www.iamwire.com/2017/05/importance-self-confidence/153023

Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

"It doesn't matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once." - Mark Cuban