Assuming you get past the resume mining and screening process, quality employers look for candidates with strong leadership potential and an ability to influence others. Potential employees who do not know how to follow their leader’s vision will never be ready to lead a project, team, or department. A talented individual does not automatically ensure strong character or integrity. Character and integrity have different definitions today, but it is my hope that the foundational definitions of these underestimated characteristics would be taken seriously if organizations and job candidates want to make a lasting impact in today’s competitive market.
Job seekers should not underestimate the importance of adding these qualities to their repertoire of key competencies. It is easier to pick up a hard skill than to wrestle with being honest with yourself about the level of character and integrity you possess. Assessing your own character requires courageous integrity. It requires courage to see the inconsistencies and discrepancies in yourself. Taking the time to work out the “hidden” areas of your personhood will set a solid foundation for your career.
So what are the foundational definitions of character and integrity, and why are they so important to employers? Character is what you do when no one else is looking, while integrity is how you do it.
Leadership and business expert, John Maxwell, describes individuals with character as those who:
Do the right thing even when no one is looking.
Make principle-based decisions.
Continue pressing forward in hardship with 100% effort.
Believe the vision before they see it.
Are steady, consistent, and committed to the mission.
Create momentum and add value.
Take responsibility and let action control attitude.
Most organizations have a set of values framed and hanging in their offices. The candidate that embodies and demonstrates those values is more likely to be a culture fit than those who may only have the skill sets the employer is looking for. Your values, character, and integrity should be established before you apply for any job. As the job seeker, you should look for a value alignment and culture that fits with your own. Good employers want to develop talent and continue growing their organizations.
Most skills can be taught, but employers know that hiring people with character and integrity adds far more value in the long run, as those qualities are difficult to teach. Bring these core values with you to an interview, and you are far ahead of those who do not.
Kristina Burroughs is a recruiter for the Center for Shared Services