Employers use a variety of ways to determine if you are the right employee for their business. Just as a good hiring decision will have a positive effect on business performance, a bad hiring decision can cost a business time, money, clients and in some cases existing staff. Having a clear understanding of the image you are presenting to an employer during your job search is a vital skill for finding work. If you can show that you are a good match for the companies’ values, team and needs you have a much greater chance of being hired.

This guide will:

  • Develop your understanding of the hiring process from the employer’s perspective;

  • Learn about why employers hire staff; and

  • Identify the key areas of employer needs.

Understanding what employers want is the first step in a successful job search. While every employer is different as research has shown that, regardless of industry or occupation, there are some things that all employers are looking for in their staff.

How do you think employers choose their staff? Think of as many factors as you can.

If we look at all aspects of business, from labour to materials, from systems and procedures to company structure, what is the number one need that drives how a business operates?

To increase the bottom line (profit)

Therefore, just as employers will choose the supplier they think will give them the best deal, or target the customer they believe will be the biggest spender, they will choose the employees they believe will have the most positive impact on their bottom line. This can be in terms of a positive impact on the business [retaining customers, meeting or exceeding targets, bringing in new businesses, streamlining systems and operations] or avoiding negative impacts on the business [employees that are unreliable, not committed to the goals and values of the company, possible staff conflict or legal trouble].

Now that we have identified the big picture of what employers want we can break this down even further into the six key areas of employer needs. These are:

  • Image
  • Attitude
  • Dependability
  • Motivation
  • Ability
  • Team Fit


Employers want to know that you will project an image that will be good for their business. Why is image so important? Employers invest a lot of time, effort and money in creating an image for their business that tells customers who they are and assists them to stand out from their competitors. This increases their profit by attracting extra business.

In some roles, in particular customer service or where you are interacting with clients, you will become the face of the company. That is, how you present yourself will form a large part of the opinion a customer may have about the business.

Things an employer will look at to assess your image include:

  • The clothes and shoes you wear
  • Your hair and make up
  • Personal hygiene
  • What you say and write
  • How you speak