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3 Things That Make a Candidate More Attractive

Andrew Buffington, Project Manager

As a Project Manager and recruiter for The Carlisle Group (TCG), qualifying candidates for opportunities on a daily basis, I’m often questioned on what makes a prospective candidate attractive. Is it location? Is it skill set? Is it experience? Quantifying items such as technical abilities, title, or years of experience isn’t enough to determine if a candidate is appealing to prospective clients. It goes deeper than merely what is on a resume. It certainly goes deeper than what can be gleaned from a 15-minute introduction. I’ve thought long and hard to break out the top three qualities I believe make a candidate attractive, regardless of their field. In the end, I believe the following list sums it up.


1- Passion

Nothing shines through more to me when I’m speaking with a potential candidate for the first time than his/her passion. I can hear it in the tone of his/her voice – that excitement and joy overflows when the candidate begins to talk at length about his/her field and the achievements accomplished.

The easiest way to set yourself apart from the crowd is to let your passion show. This passion can take many forms. It could be about the field you work in or about the company you are working for. Most importantly, it should be about the company you want to work for. My clients look for candidates who show more than just a passing interest in working for them. They desire someone who becomes excited at the idea of joining them and adding value to their team. They also want to see that same passion when it comes to past projects, accolades, and accomplishments.

Nothing stifles a chance to set yourself apart than lack of passion. Showing no enthusiasm or interest in what you do will turn off a recruiter or HR representative very quickly.

2- Knowledge

Being good at your job is one thing, but having a base of knowledge is another. My clients are innumerably more likely to place someone who brings with them a wealth of knowledge regarding subjects beyond just their day-to-day work than someone who is only focused on their own little sphere. Learning more about industry trends and how they can affect the future of your role is a sure-fire way to impress the person you’re interviewing with.

3- Communication

Communication is vital in any job. If you can’t communicate adequately to an employer, you will not be hired. Communication skills are paramount in allowing you to tell your story. Being able to explain in detail what you do, and what you’ve accomplished, is a huge step in securing your next role.

This starts with your resume. Your resume should have a clean design and should be simple to follow. Each position you’ve held should have three to five bullet points with specific details on your duties and achievements in the role. Key points to include can be cost savings, finishing major projects ahead of schedule, or winning awards from your company or industry association.

When interviewing with a prospective employer, you need strong, clear communication to bring home the fact that you are the most qualified for the job. It becomes even more important when the role requires you to lead others.


The market for talent is crowded, but there are still qualities out there that will set you apart. Have passion about your job. Show this passion when you interview. Know more than just the basics. Go above and beyond in learning more than your trade. Communicate well and communicate often. Being strong in these qualities will set you apart from others. Employers will recognize this, and you’ll land the job!

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