But while your professional background is important, your character "will have the greatest impact on whether you get the job you want," said Brian Tracy, author of "Earn What You're Really Worth: Maximise Your Income at Any Time in Any Market".
Tracy and other careers experts named seven traits that managers in any industry want.
Marc Cenedella, CEO of Ladders, said resilience separates those who flourish from those who falter in the workplace.
"Bosses are looking for employees who can stick to their goals through difficult challenges, bounce back when things go wrong, and see projects through to success," Cenedella told Business Insider.
Judge Graham, entrepreneur and career coach, agreed that having the resilience to be able to handle stress is crucial.
"You can't allow stress to affect their performance or attitude regardless of how intense the situation may get," Graham told Business Insider.
It's not all about spending 12 hours at the office. Managers are more impressed by those who can do a lot in a smaller amount of time.
Tracy said much of your productivity is determined by time-management skills - your ability to plan, organise, set priorities, solve problems and to get the job done.
"Everyone is on the clock, so this means an employee needs to value the time it takes to take on different projects and use that time effectively," Graham said. "Maintaining a steady, assured pace allows you to really hone in on decision-making capabilities."
Another trait that sets entrepreneurs apart is not fearing failure, even when there is a "high degree of uncertainty and the possibility of failure," Tracy said.
Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is one of many successful folks who advocates for the idea of accepting failure.
"To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it's going to work, it's not an experiment," Bezos said. "Most large organisations embrace the idea of invention, but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there."
Even if you know how to structure your day with good time-management skills, the ability to focus or experience "flow," that state of being in the zone, can be more elusive. This means you can concentrate "single-mindedly until the job is complete," Tracy said.
Some say focus is the characteristic that sets entrepreneurs apart from other smart people.
Focus on the customer is also an important characteristic.
"You have to maintain a relentless focus to always do what is best for the customer," Graham said. "They're the be-all and end-all, and the reason for business in the first place."
This is another point that Bezos, the richest person alive, can agree on. He said at a recent talk that he attributes his success to an "obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor."
This is "probably the most important single quality for long-term success in life and at work," Tracy said.
Being honest with others and yourself will also demonstrate to your employer that you're loyal.
"Employees need to be held accountable to complete the tasks they say they can deliver on, not only on time for team members, but the customer as well," Graham said.
No one wants to hire someone who doesn't accomplish what they promise. That's why many leaders recommend that people under-promise and over-deliver on their daily tasks.
"I get frustrated when people don't follow through," Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, CEO of on-demand beauty business Glamsquad, told The New York Times in 2015. "If I assume that someone's going to be doing something and then I find out that they haven't done it, that's very frustrating to me."
Like it or not, teamwork is the key to business success and if you can't show that you can work well with others, this will be a problem.
"Employers are looking for people who can join the team and be part of the work family," Tracy said.
While you don't want to seem fake or pushy, there are a few hacks to get people to like you more. Try smiling more and asking your coworkers more about themselves. As Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz reported, "talking about yourself may be inherently rewarding, the same way that food, money, and sex are."
Vivian Giang contributed to the original version of this post.
Also from Business Insider South Africa