The employment market is saturated  with various resources for job seekers. While some of them offer consistent advice (always send a cover letter, tailor your résumé and wait for the employer to bring up salary), the truth is that conflicting information exists.

Especially when it comes to what employers are looking for in a new hire.

A recent survey from Express Employment Professionals, one of the nation’s largest staffing firms, showed that the top three aspects that employers are looking for in a new hire are credible work history (97 percent), job experience (88 percent) and specific skills (87 percent). More than 15,000 current and former clients of Express were surveyed for the first quarter of 2011.

To get the story straight, we asked hiring managers to tell us the most impressive qualities they see in potential job candidates. Here’s what they said (in no specific order):

1. Results “Something I always ask anyone I interview is, ‘what is something you do better than anyone else in the world?’ with the follow-up of, ‘what is the evidence of this gift?’ I think that truly driven, passionate people leave behind them a wake of results wherever they go. Talking about measurable outcomes separates the contenders from pretenders.” — C. Daniel Crosby, corporate psychologist and president, Crosby Performance Consulting

“Candidates that can tell me an anecdote about how they got something done, against all odds, really impress me the most. Those who understand the rules and conduct of business but are not afraid to push the envelope a bit in the name of a job well done.” — Jennifer Prosek, author “Army of Entrepreneurs” and CEO, CJP Communications

2. Good fit “There is no giant totem poll of qualities that makes one person more impressive or better than another. People who excel in one position are going to flounder in another if it doesn’t fit their talents, interests and skills.” — Ann Latham, president of Uncommon Clarity, Inc.

3. Preparation “Showing that they have done their research by knowing something about me, and my business.” — Kenneth Sean Polley, president, Global Asset Management Group

“When a candidate asks really great questions it demonstrates not only their interest in our company and the issues we’re facing, but also their research skills. Most impressive are those who think about what they discovered in their research and then ask really great questions.” — Anita S. Fisher, marketing communications manager, Briggs & Stratton Corporation

4. Initiative “I look for the ability to take a project and run with it, to function independently and creatively with a minimum of oversight.” — Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and editor-in-chief, Pretty Young Professional

“Proactivity — the act of taking initiative, being able to operate independently and finding a way to get things done.” — Jordan Rayboy, recruiter, Rayboy Insider Search

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