Our newsletter editor, Alex Martin, asks what traits are recruiters looking for in 2018?
These days, companies are placing far less importance on certifications and studies, than they are on behaviours – a candidate who is resourceful and self-taught can often prove more valuable than a highly qualified one.
Until five years ago, the magnifying glass of recruiters was firmly on the number and type of qualifications a candidate had acquired, but experts specialising in the mentoring of executives have highlighted a growing trend towards seeking specific attitudes and skills.
According to a survey conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), attitude is the most important factor for 78% of recruiters.
Given the rapidity with which new markets and technologies arise, these attitudes now carry a new weight with leading employers. Being forward-thinking and self-taught is now considered extremely valuable because candidates who possess such qualities are generally more proactive.
Such attitudes, as well as the ability to learn from failure, are common among top entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, who as a young boy learned that he couldn’t control the budgerigars he and his friend tried to breed. Like many entrepreneurs, he learned to overcome his early failures and go on to achieve great success, as detailed in The Comeback Heroes of Business at hiscox.co.uk. There are many lessons to be learned from successful executives and entrepreneurs, and many of their failures offer the most valuable insights into what it takes to be a true visionary leader.
It’s a bad idea to hire someone in the ‘hope’ that the company will shape their character and their values. It’s the same flawed thinking that has lead to so many failed marriages.
So, here are the most important attitudes that recruiters look for in a candidate:
- 360° Vision
The ideal candidate must be open to new ideas from all sources, and be able to see problems from multiple angles. These characteristics are what help an executive detect problems in good time and create the ideal solution.
If a candidate knows how to listen, and forms a varied and multicultural team, they will undoubtedly be a great leader.
- Equality. Does a candidate greet the CEO the same as they greet the receptionist?
An amiable and respectful work environment is essential for productivity, and so a candidate who is kind to their colleagues and subordinates – not just their bosses – is essential. Harmony breeds positive results!
Executives who treat members of the same organisation differently often lose the trust and respect of the group because they’re perceived as disingenuous.
- Assertive. Separating the professional from the personal
Some people are more sensitive than others and can even perceive very direct communication as aggressive. Thus the ability to communicate appropriately and effectively is of vital importance.
Many leaders don’t know how to be assertive and empathetic at the same time, and as a consequence, projects and group activities often don’t work as expected, or the outcomes are less than desired.
An assertive and empathetic person is more likely to be a good negotiator.
- Proactive. Seeing solutions when others see problems
The global market is constantly changing. The entry of a new product can mark the death of another, just as DVD replaced VHS.
However, a positive person can make a difference and find business opportunities even in the face of adversity. A clear example of this is Xerox, who went from being a manufacturer and distributor of hardware to a document services manager.
- Execution: putting it into action
Companies are now looking for creative people who develop innovative strategies, and executives who know how to implement and execute those strategies. It isn’t uncommon for some companies to spend a year and a half on a new project only to find it doesn’t work when they try to roll it out – all because the strategist doesn’t know how to execute.
Executives should be able to see things from above in order to develop effective strategies, but should also be willing and able to roll up their sleeves and go to the front line.