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Fortune 500 Jobs: 10 Traits of Top Employees at Fortune 500 Companies

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Have you ever wondered what skills, experiences, and traits employees who work at a Fortune 500 organization possess? You are not alone.

From the outside, life at a Fortune 500 organization appears to be good, for most employees. They seem to have something we all strive for—a good job at a reputable organization, a high salary with a robust health and benefits package, workplace flexibility, and all the perks that come with it.

The reality is, those who succeed working for a Fortune 500 company are not that much different from you and me.

“Some job seekers may perceive working for a Fortune 500 company as a realm exclusively reserved for the elite,” says Beth Fries, an organizational leadership professional and doctoral candidate researching specific readiness skills perceived as crucial for individual contributors in diverse corporate sectors in the US.

“However, a crucial mindset shift involves understanding that these companies prioritize performance and adaptability above all else. Rather than viewing it as an exclusive club, job seekers should recognize that these companies are dynamic environments where employees are expected to continually demonstrate their value. This means being proactive in seeking opportunities to contribute, showcasing a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances, and consistently delivering results that align with the organization’s goals.”

These are 10 key traits of those who interview, get hired, and succeed in a Fortune 500 job:

1. They Have These 5 Critical Skills

Adaptability, leadership, communication, problem-solving, and a growth mindset are crucial to success at a Fortune 500 organization, says Fries.

“Fortune 500 companies often require employees to navigate complex environments, collaborate across teams, and innovate to stay competitive,” says Fries.

One way to develop these critical skills is to follow company leaders or high achievers within a Fortune 500 organization (or your current company) and take note of what they seem to do to succeed. Is it the way they present in team meetings? Or the way they incorporate emotional intelligence into their communication with employees? 

Consider reaching out to these leaders and asking if they could speak with you about what has been the key to their success in an organization. Perhaps they would also be willing to serve as a mentor. Or help coach you to develop skill sets that can help you succeed within the organization. 

If you don’t have professional experience in a team setting, you can also practice your teamwork and communication skills in other ways, says Hill. For instance, you can be active in a professional organization or volunteer activities that are team-focused. It can be particularly valuable to take on a leadership role in this kind of organization, which can have more impact on your resume and help you to develop additional skills in this area. 

2. They Are Adaptable to Change

You must be adaptable to succeed in a Fortune 500 environment, says Alison Challman, the Founder of Finally Promoted, a go-to career destination that is all about showing great employees what matters most to move up at work. Challman spent 25+ years working for Fortune 500 companies, climbing the corporate ladder from administrative assistant to the C-suite level as a chief marketing officer.

“Large companies are always starting up new initiatives and restructuring teams, so it’s essential to show up as someone who embraces change,” says Challman.

To adapt to these changes, be flexible and open-minded. Understand that at large organizations, priorities and business goals often change, which can mean job roles and priorities shift. During times of change, ask managers what specifically you can do to help make an impact and adjust to these changes. 

Consider connecting with a career advisor—or mentor—in the company, or with any other longtime co-workers, and asking what has helped them succeed in times of change. Throughout it all, continue to find a way to make an impact and add value through the work you do every day. 

3. They Have Mastered Soft Skills

Teamwork, communication, and interpersonal skills are absolutely critical for team members at all levels of a Fortune 500 organization, says Jon Hill, Chairman and CEO of The Energists, an oil and gas industry recruitment and executive search firm. Prior to joining the team at The Energists, Hill worked as VP of Marketing and Technology at Schlumberger, an American oilfield services company consistently ranked as a Fortune 500 company.

Hill points out that Fortune 500 companies tend to have fairly large workforces led by multi-level leadership teams, and may be split into multiple departments or locations. Because of this, effective communication is important for both leaders and individual contributors in order to coordinate efforts. This ensures everyone is aligned toward the same goal and fulfilling the tasks within their responsibility.

“Any team of that size is also likely to have a variety of people on it, who come from a similarly broad range of backgrounds and perspectives, making interpersonal skills like empathy, emotional intelligence, consensus-building, and conflict resolution very important traits,” says Hill.

Realize that every co-worker and teammate has things going on in their life, personally and professionally. Some have different ways of approaching work—some are outgoing and personable, and others are shy, or introverted. Don’t take short email responses personally, and don’t read into an expression or comment made on a Zoom call, where perhaps you feel you were slighted or not heard. 

Think twice before doing anything in haste. When projects go sideways, or there are challenges, stay focused on the task, not the why. Don’t blame or make excuses. This will help you earn respect as a team player and as someone who is emotionally intelligent—something Fortune 500 organizations covet. 

4. They Can Handle Management Issues

While Fortune 500 organizations are often among some of the top companies to work for, every company faces challenges. For instance, dealing with bad managers or leaders who aren’t skilled at leading. The ability to continue to do good work and be a solid contributor in the face of these types of leadership challenges is a trait that top employees possess.

“Even a large, successful organization is going to have its issues,” says Hill. “You may still encounter things like bureaucratic inefficiencies, outdated systems or technology, disorganized leaders, and similar annoyances, even working in a highly regarded and highly profitable company. I’ve seen a few people get hired into these organizations expecting to find an ideal workplace, then end up disappointed when they still need to deal with occasional issues or snags that are arguably avoidable.”

A bad manager can make or break one’s experience at a job, no matter the type of organization or role. If you are going through this, consider weathering the storm, doing a good job, and hoping that the manager could move on or be replaced. 

The good thing about working at a large organization is that companies invest in management training, and this person could improve with additional training. Be willing to have open and honest conversations with this manager, to ask how things can improve. If this doesn’t work, another benefit of working at a Fortune 500 organization is there is a chance you could move into other roles or departments, and get a fresh start with a new manager. 

5. They Are Team Players

Large corporations require a lot of employees to work together to get the job done. It truly is a team environment, and each individual plays a role in getting things done and accomplishing business goals. This means you will find yourself attending planning meetings—including those where you probably don’t say or contribute anything—receiving multiple emails or messages, and completing project management tasks that just need to be done to check off deadlines or move projects to the next step.

Hills says, the plus side to this is that each person’s roles on these projects typically have a clearly defined scope and responsibilities, and there are often multiple employees handling similar tasks at the individual contributor level. This can be both a pro and a con.

“On the plus side, it can mean more schedule flexibility and a better work-life balance, giving individuals more freedom to use PTO or to completely unplug from work at the end of their shift,” says Hill. “On the cons side, it can make it more difficult to get recognition or stand out for your work. This can also mean less diversity in the tasks you do on a daily basis and fewer opportunities to expand your skill sets.”

6. They Are Lifelong Learners

Speaking of skill sets, another key trait of a successful Fortune 500 employee is the ability to become a lifelong learner. You can’t stay in the same job, doing the same thing year after year, and truly excel at a Fortune 500 company, says Challman. Even if it’s a similar role or job title, the job duties, people one works with, clients, and skill sets needed, are always going to evolve. Embracing the ability to be a lifelong learner is crucial to success at a Fortune 500 organization.

The good news? The best Fortune 500 organizations invest in and encourage training and development.

“Working within a Fortune 500 organization means you have extensive opportunities for career growth and advancement,” says Challman.

7. They Actively Seek Out New Assignments

Top employees at Fortune 500 companies actively seek out stretch assignments—those projects or tasks outside one’s comfort zone or expertise that can accelerate professional growth and development, according to Fries. These assignments provide opportunities to acquire new skills, expand one’s network, and demonstrate initiative and adaptability.

“By embracing challenges and stepping outside their comfort zones, employees can demonstrate their readiness to take on increased responsibilities and contribute to the company’s long-term success,” says Fries.

8.  They Learn New Technology Quickly

In addition to traditional business knowledge, companies increasingly value candidates with solid tech skills as technology continues to play a pivotal role in business operations.

“In an era of rapid technological advancement and evolving business landscapes, companies seek employees who can adapt to change and drive innovation,” says Fries. “By showcasing a combination of these skills and attributes, job seekers can position themselves as valuable assets to companies seeking to thrive in today’s dynamic business environment.”

All technology and software programs take time to learn. Most of these programs offer tutorials or training guides. Large companies also often have individual “leads.” They help implement these programs and are the point person for questions and help about that particular program. Reach out to them and ask for assistance, training opportunities, or questions to help you learn any new programs. 

9. They Figure Out How to Fit in

Every job requires certain competencies—business expertise as well as personal attributes—for success.

However, no matter what role you are in, figuring out how value is measured by your organization and then consistently creating value is another key trait of successful employees at Fortune 500 companies, says Shelmina Abji. Abji is a former VP at IBM and the highest-ranking woman of color at what was a Fortune 10 (at the time she was there) company. She is also the author of the new book, Show Your Worth: 8 Intentional Strategies for Women to Emerge as Leaders at Work.

Those who do this successfully have these traits, says Abji:

  • They create value outside their own project—for their peers, boss, and overall organization.
  • Bring positive energy and enthusiasm to keep moving forward—especially when situations are challenging.
  • Solve problems and don’t become part of the problem.
  • Balance confidence and humility.

They also become intentional and strategic about maximizing career success. Show your worth in every interaction by doing this, adds Abji:

  • Structure your days around your highest priorities.
  • Intentionally create value in all your interactions.
  • Intentionally grow your competence and your confidence.
  • Build relationships that will support your career.

10. They Support Their Colleagues

Want to succeed at a Fortune 500 organization? Be supportive of your co-workers. 

Give kudos when a job is well done. Support your colleagues and help them solve problems when they ask questions. Additionally, be someone people go to if they need help, or a problem solved. Don’t gossip, don’t complain, and don’t bring others down with you.

While these traits are important in any job, simply being a good employee—and a good person—can truly go a long way toward your success in a Fortune 500 job. If you are someone who makes the day better for others, company leaders will eventually notice, and that can make you an invaluable team member, no matter your role.

Your Roadmap for Success

This list includes some of the key traits of top employees at Fortune 500 companies. Use these tips and strategies as your roadmap, and you will be set up for success in any job. You could even become a Fortune 500 employee yourself.

Ready to find your next job with a Fortune 500 company? Let Lensa help you with our smarter job search technology that helps you find a job with a perfect fit.

Picture of Matt Krumrie
Matt Krumrie
Matt Krumrie is a resume expert and freelance writer whose work has been published in over 200 newspapers, websites, and magazines. He has 15+ years of experience writing resumes for clients of all backgrounds, from college grad, to entry-level to mid-career, executive and more. Matt lives in Minnesota.

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