Which 3 qualities are essential to entry-level job search success?


I love having a chance to answer this question because the qualities which are important in job searching are often overlooked.

A lot of time is spent determining the “right” skills and worrying about having the “right” degree.

Perhaps even more time is spent writing (and re-writing and re-writing) resumés and draft interview answers.

Not a lot of time is spent thinking about the process of the job search itself, and what helps you to see it through to completion (i.e., to a job offer!).

In my experience, the top three qualities that lead to success are persistence, commitment to networking, and flexibility.


The importance of persistence is obvious. Any job search takes time and effort. And while you will find success at the end, and lots of interesting information, helpful people, and a variety of leads, along the way, there will inevitably also be doors that close, dead ends, and un-helpful people too.

When and if you stumble (and we all do), it’s the ability to pick yourself up and keep going that will get you to your goal. It seems corny to say “never give up,” but really being persistent and holding on to the belief that things will happen, is one of the most important qualities for successful job searching.

Commitment to networking

Almost every successful job search is based on networking. And not just the activity of networking, but the personal commitment to get out there and continually work on your networking.

For some people this is really taking yourself out of your comfort zone. It can be way easier to just sit at your computer (alone, in your comfortable home) and surf job posting sites.

Talking with people, real live people, can seem way scarier, but, ultimately, job search success comes from continuing to be committed to connecting with people.


The third quality that helps with job search success is flexibility. Now, saying it is good to be flexible, does not mean that you need to be ready to accept a job that is completely unrelated to your job target.

The job you will ultimately get will depend not only on what you want to do, but also on what organizations need at this particular time.

Being flexible being open to the unexpected opportunities and ideas that will come your way as you job search. Where we end up is rarely exactly where we expected. Your job search is not usually like going to the grocery store, where you head directly to the aisle with the product you want, and grab it. It is more like an exploration.

Until you have done a lot of your research and job searching, you won’t know which aisles have what and what jobs in what organizations are even available right now. And what is available will be constantly changing.

Sometimes you know exactly what job you want and will go out and get just that. More often I find that successful people narrow things done to a focus, but a focus that leaves space for some flexibility.

So, there are the three top qualities that I think help you to manage through the ups and downs of a job search: persistence, commitment to networking (even when it is hard) and flexibility.

What do you think are the qualities that will help YOU to see your job search through?

About the author

Cathy Keates is a career counsellor and trainer who has worked with university students and graduates for the past decade, helping them to strategically create careers they will love. She has worked as a career counsellor at Queen's University and was the associate director of the career centre at York University. Convinced that we can all create lives based on authenticity and integrity, she is the author of the new job search book Not for Sale! and shares her thoughts about finding work without losing yourself on her blog, Transform Your Job Search.