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Top Five Personality Traits Employers Hire Most

I know you: You’ve made looking for your next job, well… your job. You’ve scoured your resume of clichéd buzzwords, brushed up on body language and even gotten a handle on the dreaded video interview.

But all that might be for naught if you just don’t have the personality your dream employer is looking for. New research shows that the vast majority of employers (88%) are looking for a “cultural fit” over skills in their next hire as more and more companies focus on attrition rates. Lucky for you, we’ve drilled down into data from 1,200 of the world’s leading employers (think General Electric, P&G and Accenture) to find precisely the personalities big business is looking for.

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Universum, the Stockholm-based employer branding firm that annually surveys over 400,000 students and professionals worldwide on jobs-related issues, has culled their data to the top five personality traits employers are looking for in job candidates in 2012. How’s that for a leg up on the competition?

“We surveyed employers to get a handle on the challenges that face them in hiring,” says Joao Araujo of Universum. “What are they looking for in employees and what are they not finding?” By identifying both traits, he says, aspiring job applicants can both identify the most sought after traits—and brush up resumes and interview tactics to best position themselves.

Professionalism (86%), high-energy (78%) and confidence (61%) are the top three traits employers say they are looking for in new hires. Kathy Harris, managing director of Manhattan-based executive search firm Harris Allied says these first-impression traits are the most critical for employers to prepare for as they all can be evaluated by a recruiter or hiring manager within the first 30 seconds of meeting a candidate.

[More from Forbes: 10 Worst Body Language Mistakes To Make In An Interview]

“A manager can read you the moment you walk in the door,” she says; from the clothes you wear to the way you stand to the grip of your first hand-shake, presenting yourself as a confident, energetic professional is about as basic as career advice gets. But don’t be off-put by this commonplace advice. Harris, who specialized in high-level executive placement says even the most seasoned of CEOs can get tripped up by the basics. Universum clients agree: confidence ranks highest on the list of skills companies think employees are missing most.

“We remind every candidate of the most granular advice,” she says. The most successful applicant is the one who walks into every interview with her hand outstretched for a handshake, has done her homework on the interviewer and company and is dressed to fit effortlessly into the culture of the workplace.

[More from Forbes: Ten Clichés To Ditch On The Job Hunt]

The remaining personality traits that Universum clients say are critical in the hiring process aren’t ones that can be read on-sight but instead call for both resume and interview preparation. To present yourself as a self-monitoring (58%) personality type, Harris says to adjust resume language to call attention to work experience where you’ve worked independently or excelled without the guidance of direct leadership. “In interviews, chose anecdotes that show how you’ve saved, made or achieved in previous positions… and how self-motivation was critical to that success.”

Intellectual curiosity (57%) is, fittingly, a curious trait for Harris, who says she generally advises clients to tightly edit the “hobbies and interests” sections of their resumes. “I’d imagine that in looking for intellectual curiosity employers are looking for two things,” she says. “The ability to problem solve and the ongoing dedication to learning new technologies or solutions that will continue to advance in the changing workplace.” Employers are asking themselves whether new hires will be with the company for the long term, she says. An employee who will grudgingly adopt a new database is not as attractive as one who is truly passionate about learning new things.

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