How to Develop Personal Attributes (Plus 8 Key Attributes)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 23 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Education, experience and skills are essential during the interview process, but possessing specific personal attributes can determine whether you succeed at your new job. These attributes are special traits you may have or develop related to your work ethic and personality. Learning about how to develop the personal attributes employers seek in candidates can help identify key attributes you need and how to develop them to increase your chances of getting a job. In this article, we discuss the most employable personality traits and how you can develop them to stand out from other candidates in your job search.

What are personal attributes?

Personal attributes are the qualities that define who you are as a person. They are natural traits that drive the skills you may possess. For example, confidence can make your selling skills stand out, which could differentiate you from other equally qualified candidates. Personal traits can be challenging to learn compared to skills, but with the right amount of commitment, you can develop the top attributes that employers desire in candidates.

Related: 12 Important Personal Qualities to Include on Your CV

How to develop personal attributes

The following are eight personal attributes that make job candidates more appealing to employers and details on how to develop personal attributes:

1. Develop confidence

Confidence is being aware of the value you provide to yourself and the people around you and acting in a manner that conveys it. Professionals with confidence are often bold, and therefore, are more likely to take up new challenges. Colleagues listen to them and employers trust them with projects because they're more productive and great motivators to their team members.

To improve self-confidence, first, assess yourself to understand how you impact others. Identifying your value can aid in improving your confidence. Acknowledge your achievements even if they seem minor. Let people around you know what you've achieved and the efforts you made to achieve them. People pay attention to your body language the same way they listen to your words. Even when you feel timid, your posture can make people think otherwise. Work on your posture by learning how to stand straight, maintain eye contact with people and move around like someone with purpose.

Related: Body Language Tips for a Job Interview

2. Practice taking initiative

Initiative means knowing when to take necessary actions without being told. This quality encourages you to think for yourself and work independently. You see problems others hardly notice and take steps to solve them. You go out of your way to help others, going above and beyond to complete your tasks. Most importantly, you're intentional about your personal growth and development because you want to remain up-to-date with the latest industry trends.

The first step in taking initiative is to identify potential problems before they become real problems. Next, create an action plan to manage them or notify the relevant authorities to do so. Make a habit of taking interest in new things and ask questions to clarify what you may not understand.

3. Foster resilience

Resilience describes a situation when a person can adapt to complex situations or recover from significant setbacks. A resilient person lives a life of purpose and keeps striving until they achieve their goals. Resilience in the workplace may increase productivity, engagement, organisational commitment and overall job satisfaction.

To develop a resilient spirit, consider creating a plan for stress management. You may practise relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. You may also participate in hobbies or activities, such as walking or reading. Having a stress management plan can help you overcome challenges in a resilient way. Also, consider practising positive thinking. Even when something is not going the way you want, keep thinking positive thoughts and saying positive words. This can help you develop a growth mindset, which is a way of showing resilience when overcoming challenges.

4. Strengthen your optimism

Optimism means having a positive outlook on life and your future. It's an important personal attribute that employers look out for when interviewing candidates because it contributes to higher performance and creates a positive work environment. Optimistic professionals are enthusiastic about work and tend to be solution-oriented, always looking for ways to solve problems. In addition, being optimistic increases your confidence and helps you build stronger relationships with other people.

Practice optimism by focusing on the things that are going well in your life. Think of two or three things that are currently making you happy and write them down. Another way to practise optimism is to act with gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for if you can stop and think about it. Gratitude helps us focus on positive thoughts and feelings. You may also learn to use words of affirmation such as “I am strong,” “I can do this,” or “I am getting this job.” This can help some professionals develop optimism.

5. Build integrity

Integrity means upholding solid moral principles in every situation, even when it's inconvenient. Integrity is essential in building trust and strong relationships at work. The personal quality works alongside other attributes such as honesty, responsibility, self-awareness, accountability and dependability. Employers may look for this valuable trait in potential candidates during the hiring process because professionals with integrity are often reliable and loyal.

One of the ways to develop integrity is by only making promises that you can keep. A promise is a responsibility, and by completing them, you can show others that they can trust you. Also, consider ways you can stand up for what you believe in while considering how to accommodate the opinion of others. Finally, surround yourself with people of integrity. Spend time with people who hold your values and ethics to avoid compromising on your principles. These can help you develop your personal sense of integrity.

Related: 20 Important Life Skills to Support Your Career Success

6. Take responsibility

A responsible person keeps promises, honours commitments and is highly dependable. They accept the consequences for their actions rather than blaming others when things go wrong. A responsible person also seeks to develop their potential so that they can be beneficial to themselves and society. Responsibility is an important personal trait for professionals who seek satisfaction and accomplishment in their career and personal life.

To become a responsible person, be accountable for your actions. Strive to resist the urge to blame others for a poor situation. Instead, think of how to come out of it. Also, learn to do things without waiting for people to ask. Be observant to identify the things that need your attention. For example, if you notice that no one has taken out the trash, do so yourself. Finally, avoid procrastination by keeping track of your obligations and their deadlines. Refrain from distractions like social media when it's time to work.

7. Use your empathy

Empathy is being aware of the feelings and emotions of the other person. You can understand whatever it is another person is going through because you can see things from their point of view. Empathy is what motivates us to act when we see people suffering or in a complex situation. Empathy is a highly valued attribute in the workplace because it helps you understand your colleagues' problems, feelings and perceptions. It's an essential trait that facilitates conflict resolution, cooperation and bonding with others.

To build your empathy for others, start by taking a genuine interest in people. When talking with someone, listen attentively to understand their emotions and the message they are trying to convey. Observe their body language and ask personal questions. Your genuine concern for them can help the other person open up to you so you can understand them better. Examples of questions to ask are, "What's on your mind?" or "Please, tell me more."

Related: Important Soft Skills Employers in Hong Kong Look for

8. Develop a willingness to learn

Willingness to learn means being open to new experiences, skills and information that aids your career and personal growth. Possessing such traits can help you seek ways to develop new skills vital to your career progression. It also spurs you to learn about new tools or procedures that can improve your efficiency and productivity at work. Most business leaders try to help their co-workers learn new skills, but they want them to show the willingness to learn, so they look out for that attribute during the interview process.

You can develop the willingness to learn by embracing your curiosity and asking questions for clarity. When you are curious about something, write down the questions that come to your mind and search for the answers. Another way is to visualise where you want to be in the next five to 10 years, write your goals and start learning new skills to get you there.

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