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by Tag and Catherine Goulet

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Preparing to Apply for a New Job in 2009
What Employees and Employers
Really Want for Christmas

If you're like most people, you have probably thought of a few things you would love to receive as gifts this holiday season.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of consumers are hoping to unwrap gifts of books, CDs, DVDs, videos, or video games this holiday season. Other gift favorites this year, in order of popularity, are: clothing and accessories, gift cards, consumer electronics, jewellery, and home décor.

Some of the gifts in these categories may be ideal for work. You might be looking forward to receiving a business book such as Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't by Jim Collins, a DVD of the movie Office Space starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston, a new interview suit, a Staples gift card, a Blackberry, or even a tie clip.

However, many of the things employees and employers really want do not appear on any holiday gift lists. Still, it's the season of hope, so here are some things that many people hope for in their workplaces:

What Employees Want

To discover what employees want most, we turned to research by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans, authors of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay.

Kaye and Jordan-Evans asked over 15,000 people why they stayed with an employer. The answers were surprisingly consistent. They found the same reasons for remaining with an organization "come up again and again throughout every industry and at every level." There are only minor differences between what people want in different positions, what men and women want, and what workers of different ages want.

Here are the top 15 responses listed in order of popularity. All the employees interviewed included at least one of the first three items on their personal list. How many of these things are part of your job?

  1. Exciting work and challenge
  2. Career growth, learning, and development
  3. Working with great people
  4. Fair pay
  5. Supportive management/good boss
  6. Being recognized, valued, and respected
  7. Benefits
  8. Meaningful work and making a difference
  9. Pride in the organization, its mission, and its product
  10. Great work environment and culture
  11. Autonomy, creativity, and sense of control
  12. Flexibility: work hours, dress, and so on
  13. Location
  14. Job security and stability
  15. Diverse, changing work assignments

Since it's the season of office parties and eggnog, we should also mention that the list included "fun on the job" at #16.

What Employers Want

We asked Ebenezer Scrooge, CEO of Scrooge Industries what he wants from his employees. He told us he wants employees who:

  • Start early and work late every day
  • Work for low pay
  • Work 364 days a year

When we said we didn't think many employees would be willing to work under those conditions, he replied "bah, humbug" and muttered something about how wonderful the days of the Victoria-era workhouses and 1990s dot-com start-ups were.

Since Scrooge wasn't much help, we have put together our own list of what employers want.

Job skills are at the top of the list. Of course, the exact skills vary by job and employer. For example, some may require customer service skills while others may need computer skills. The bottom line is that employers want employees who are capable of doing the job they were hired for.

Next on the list is experience. Few employers offer much on-the-job training, so no matter how enthusiastic an applicant is, employers need to know that person can hit the ground running and do the job without taking too much time trying to learn what to do from busy co-workers.

If you don't yet have the skills and experience to do the job you want, look into ways to learn the job and get experience such as training programs, volunteer work, internships, and apprenticeships.

Here are some additional items many employers have on the list of traits they want in an employee:

  • Positive attitude
  • Gets along well with other people
  • Can follow instructions
  • Self-starter
  • Problem-solver
  • Goes the extra mile

If you need to improve in any of these areas, we suggest adding Dale Carnegie's wonderful book How to Win Friends and Influence People to your Christmas list.

We hope you get everything you wish for this holiday season.

Click here to find the career of your dreams.

Tag and Catherine Goulet are authors of Dream Careers and founders of FabJob Inc. Visit to discover how to break into the career of your dreams.

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by Tag and Catherine Goulet:
Sisters Tag and Catherine Goulet are the Dream Career Experts. In 1999 they founded, a publisher of guides on how to break into a dream career, which has been visited by 50 million people. They have been featured giving career advice in media from ABC to and Woman's Day to the Wall Street Journal online, and their career advice appears frequently on the career pages at and They are authors of the book Dream Careers: How to Quickly Break into a Fab Job! Visit to discover how to break into a dream career.

Discover Your Dream Career and How to Quickly Break In! is featured in Woman's World Magazine ("Land Your Dream Job" article, April 2007).

FabJob Guides have been featured in stories at The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine sites.

Dream Careers

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