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The Top Five Traits Employers Look For

The Top Five Traits employers look for in their employees.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle, Greek philosopher

We have no doubt that Aristotle is right with this statement, however excellence is a very subjective word. This makes it somewhat difficult for an aspiring apprentice to figure out what an employer may be looking for. Thankfully help is at hand. This article covers the Top Five Traits employers look for in suitable apprentice candidates.


You’ve probably heard of Reed. We’ve been known to use their services from time to time when recruiting apprentices ourselves. The founder of Reed, James Reed co-wrote a book called Put Your Mindset to Work which examines how you need to think during your career in order to be successful and achieve the goals you set out for yourself.

One of the key ideas the book focuses on is that employers value the attitude of an applicant or employee over the skills they have as skills can be learned over time. As part of the research for writing the book, Reed and his co-writer Dr. Paul G. Stoltz surveyed over 800 employers of all shapes and sizes, industry sectors etc. to find out what employers looked for in their ideal employee.

96% said they’d take mindset over skillset. But what is meant by mindset?

Top Five Traits

The data from the survey was collated and an initial list of 100 words describing personality traits was produced, in descending order depending on the percentage of employers who mentioned the desired words. Once you get outside of the top five words, you start seeing variations on a theme and repetition. To be honest, the top five traits give a good all round idea of the behaviours needed to be successful not only in the work place, but in life in general too. The beauty of all of these traits is that you can practice them in all areas of your life so they become ingrained as part of your personality.

They are-

=1. Honesty

=1. Trustworthiness

3. Commitment

4. Accountability

5. Adaptability

Honesty & Trustworthiness

Honesty & trustworthiness were mentioned as essential traits by every single employer.

Put yourself in the employer’s shoes for a minute, it makes sense. In order to have any kind of successful relationship with someone, you need to feel they’re being honest with you and that you can trust them.


In 3rd place comes commitment. Your employer (or intended employer) needs to know that you can commit to tasks and projects. What do you look to learn from them? How has your commitment to causes allowed you to grow and develop? What is needed for you to commit? Think about these questions, they’ll give you some interesting and relevant things to talk about with the employer.


What the employer is looking for here is- Can you be relied upon? If asked to complete a task by a certain time, to a certain standard; can you produce the goods? I.e. Can you be held to account? Again, think of examples from your past where you have shown time and again that people can rely upon you with good reason. You deliver!


We’re all subject to changing circumstances. Some of our making and some that are thrust or forced upon us. So when the winds of change blow; do you build a wall, or do you build a windmill?

Think about the statement for a second. What employers are looking for here are people who use change as an opportunity to grow and develop themselves and the people around them in a positive way. What examples can you currently give?

To conclude

We understand young people often struggle with the question of how they can show they’re suitable for an employer without having relevant work experience. As the examples above show, it’s not about you bringing skills to the table as an apprentice as you will be taught those whilst on the apprenticeship.

What you do need to bring however is the right mindset. If you habitually look for ways to build the above traits into your everyday behaviours, you will appeal to the employers you want to work for. There is a saying we use a lot in business referral circles which is-

“The way you do anything, is the way you do everything”.

Simply put, if you go about your daily life with a positive mindset it will come across to the people you deal with. Happy apprenticeship hunting!

If you would like support to find the right apprenticeship for you, please call our main hotline number which is 01484907080 or by writing to



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