People often ask me “What do employers look for? What does it take to get hired?” As you know, there have been hundreds of books and thousands of articles written on this topic but I offer you this information based on my 25 years’ experience as a corporate talent management leader for Fortune companies, and for the past 5 years as an executive career coach. I have had vast experience in hiring talent at all levels, including leadership and the C-suite.
What Employers Seek in Top Talent Selection
Most positions, and especially, ones in leadership, require professionals who possess a high acumen in the following 3 areas and, though they may sound like common sense, are not easy to master. In fact, it has been my experience that it is very difficult to find a management or executive candidate who possesses all three of them:
1) Communication Skill
Technical skill or know how isn’t enough – not even in our high tech world. Almost every position in every work setting requires a fairly high competency of either verbal or written communication – or both. Whether you are conveying your own thoughts (or others’) advising or instructing others, thoughts need to be confidently and effectively conveyed. The most successful people are consummate communicators. If you can’t engage others and communicate, others will be hired and promoted who can. Some people believe that the interview process is designed to trick the job candidate. Quite ironically, the individual interviewing you hopes that you are the one candidate s/he has interviewed who can do the job successfully and is listening to how concisely, clearly and effectively you respond to the questions.
2) Manage Relationships
Collaboration is currently a popular term used in job postings for leaders. Assuming you have mastered your own thoughts and emotions (Emotional Intelligence 101), it is essential to manage relationships with others. Whether a customer service representative helping a customer with a problem or an executive responsible for 5,00o employees in a global and complex, heavily regulated industry, the insight into others’ needs, the ability to support others, influence outcomes and champion change is what it takes and what employers look for when selecting top talent. Think about leaders who you most respect. No doubt they are talented and gifted at making you feel important and your concerns are worth their time. In contrast, a bad boss might be someone who is distant, has little time or concern for others and simply goes about his/her day checking off the box or looking at revenue spreadsheets. Companies cannot afford to hire or retain people with little to no ability to manage relationships. If they alienate employees, chances are that they will alienate key stakeholders and clients. When in an interview setting, know that an astute hiring manager is listening for these interests and examples in your answers.
You don’t need the title “leader” behind your name to step forward and be a person of influence and an ambassador for your organization’s goals and objectives. “Doing the right thing vs. Doing things right” is a common definition of leader vs. manager. Ironically, leadership is not the end result of a training session. It is not a learned hard skill but, rather, a culmination of being professional, a role model to others, exhibiting the traits of integrity, inspiring others to do the right thing and sometimes to stand up for your convictions even when everyone else disagrees. True leaders are more interested in others than in themselves.
Recruiters and hiring managers can spot leaders easily. Those traits are revealed on the resume and throughout the interview responses.
Patricia Edwards, founder of www.CareerWisdomCoach, has dedicated her entire career to selecting awesome employees and developing them for greater opportunities. Read more articles about job search and career success on the website or contact her at PatriciaEdwards@CareerWisdomCoach.com