Posted By: Deanna DeBenedictis

Ironically, "intangibles," by definition, are those things that are hard to define. When it comes to hiring, final decisions often come down to what sets a candidate apart, even if you can't quite clearly define it.

The top applicants will all have the education and skills you require to do the job well. They'll probably also have certain amounts of experience, so it will come down to what extras they bring to the table.

And the "intangibles" will vary by the position you're filling.

In finance, trust and credibility are the top characteristics clients look for in their advisors, and should rank up there in what hiring managers look for in their applicants. Advisors, as well as relationship managers and anyone in a customer services position also need outstanding interpersonal and communications skills and emotional intelligence.

Marketing professionals have to demonstrate creativity, but that should come with an enthusiasm and passion for your brand and/or products and services.

Other characteristics that can set applicants apart regardless of the job include a willingness to learn, being a team player, reliability and a positive attitude. Another "intangible" of growing importance to many employers these days is adaptability: Can a candidate handle a vague assignment or do they need specific, step-by-step instructions.

If you can't determine these skills from a resume or interview, make a note to ask about them when you speak with the candidates' references.

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