Conversations with Local Employers: A Profile of the Ideal Employee

By on August 8, 2012
Conversations with Local Employers, Hiring 2012

As part of our State of St. Louis Workforce study this year, we added a new element to help us understand what’s going on locally with unemployment – the rate is still hovering above 8 percent. We asked six employers to describe their “ideal employee.”

This question may seem simple, but it gets right at the issue – does our region have the right type of workers with the skills they need to succeed in the current (and future) workforce? What qualities and skills do employers look for when they’re screening applicants?

St. Louis Community College worked with six important local companies of varying sizes (from 200 to 28,000 employees) and across a range of industries – from health care and financial services to manufacturing and information services. A series of in-depth interviews were conducted with: Bethesda, BJC HealthCare, Boeing, Gateway EDI, Gallus BioPharmaceuticals and Edward Jones.

Our goal was to better understand 1) the challenges they face when looking for new employees and 2) what they believe are the most important technical and “soft skills” for potential applicants to have.

Many common themes emerged with these interviews. The importance of soft skills was consistently raised, and the employers ranked the following skills as critically important: communication and interpersonal skills; teamwork and collaboration; adaptability and the willingness to learn new things; critical thinking and problem solving; and a professional and mature work ethic.

How Do Local Employers Describe Their Ideal Employee?

  • We are looking for someone who is committed to patient care, not just someone who is looking for a job. – Bethesda
  • To work at BJC, someone must have a heart for the mission and a passion for the cause. – BJC HealthCare
  • We want someone who is committed to getting the job done and takes pride in how their efforts impact local, national and world events. – Boeing
  • We want people who want to make a difference for their client and want their work to have a positive impact. – Edward Jones
  • [We] are looking for people who have a personality that matches the organizational culture – commitment to excellence, willingness to learn and develop and teamwork. – Gallus BioPharmaceuticals
  • Our current environment is fast-paced and employees must be flexible, agile and willing to move between and among tasks on a regular basis. – Gateway EDI

What really separates a “good applicant” from an “excellent hire?” It’s the higher order soft skills, like communication, social intelligence, critical thinking and problem solving. A new hire that is technically competent and has strong soft skills is much more likely to reach their full potential and contribute more to their new company.

To learn more about how Workforce Solutions Group helps companies create customized training programs to update their employees’ skills, please read more about our St. Louis Contract Training and Consulting programs.

About Richard Schumacher

Richard Schumacher is the technology manager for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. He connects, designs, and applies technology to meet business user needs with eLearning, training, web content, instructional design, IT system, and performance improvement solutions. Richard is a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) and has held Microsoft Certifications since 1993. Learn more about Richard by following him: LinkedIn - Twitter - Google+ - Articles - Email

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