7 Qualities Headhunters Are Hiring For

Over the past year, and in our own experience, we often talk to our headhunter partners and hear out their insights and also the key characteristics that they are looking for in a new candidate especially for a senior position.

It is often hard to put a tangible measure for all the soft management skills that are increasingly growing in prominence with all executive recruiters and headhunters alike. So, what are the qualities headhunters are hiring for?

7 Qualities Headhunter Are Hiring For

1. Global Outlook: Being a frog in the pond is not something that is going to benefit you in the long term and in the digitally nomadic world. It’s great to have a local perspective and be aware of local needs, but at the same time you need to have an international outlook and be accepting of new things in other cultures. Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO WPP had this to add:

Speaking the languages of the great rising powers like China and Brazil will give you huge competitive advantage in an ever more globalized workplace, but it’s not enough by itself. More important than the skill itself is outlook. Top candidates are eternally inquisitive, outward-looking and international in perspective. In a world where ideas cross the globe in seconds, you can’t afford to be parochial.

2. Openness: Throughout a period of time people tend to develop their own biases. Nine or ten years in a single job, you will get used to things in a certain way. You develop your our notions of what works and what doesn’t. In a new company, new team or a new job profile, things may be totally different. How would you rate yourself on the openness scale? From working with different cultures, genders it can be anything that throws you off. Are you ready to accept things that are not exactly aligned to your own thought process? Are you willing to change your perspective if something new comes up?

3. Curiosity: We do find people fighting to get the window office and once they get it, they are sitting there all their lives. When was the last time you walked up to the next floor and asked a colleague in a different department what they’re working on?

Having sufficient curiosity to try something new, or find new things to do (personally and professionally) allow you to get out of your comfort zones and may bring out a complete new side in you as a professional. Creativity, inventions and improvements in products, services or any aspect of the value chain can happen through people stopping themselves once in a day and asking just one question: is there a way to do this better?

4. Will to win: Do not be that guy whose job is constantly to complain and say no. Ask yourself: why are you in this job? How could you bring value to your stakeholders- your customers, management, teams, shareholders? Meg Whitman, CEO HP offers great advice:

I talk about having the will to win with HP employees a lot. To me, it means executing, communicating, collaborating and being accountable. Things are never going to be perfect. There’s always going to be some disadvantage that has to be overcome. But winners don’t wait around for perfect conditions. Winners improvise. They fight on and they refuse to lose.

5. Confidence: Be the brand you want to be seen as. A confident professional going out there placing his/her bets even in areas where they do not already have all the data available is respected. Always access that you’re not being over pushy and are not all talk.

You need to be confident AND deliver. Creating a confident brand persona is something leaders are expected to build. Your teams and bosses alike need to have belief in your capabilities. Being Entrepreneur James Caan offers some advice on building a confident brand persona:

The key is to not be overly sale-sy when you meet people – listening is a huge part (…)  but still ensuring they know your quality and reputation…Things like networking and brand building, which I mentioned earlier, are critical – but there is no substitute for actual output.

6. Performing under pressure: Far too many managers seem to have overwhelming quantities of work and pressure. What differentiates a regular manager from a great one, is their ability to be calm under an adverse situation and actually bring outstanding results to the table. Real leaders have the ability to take accountability of failures and accept that they may not know things at times. Real leaders are constantly learning. Do you have what it takes?

7. Empathy: Not easy and empathy is often times misinterpreted. Syamant Sandhir, CEO Futurescape had this to share:

The organisation needs to have real interactions between people. What will work and what needs to be done is an iterative process. You need people to talk, to understand each other’s point of view, to take decisions, to accept failure and learn and equally not get carried away by success. Learn and iterate at all times. If you look for inspiration in team sport, superstars may win you a match here or there but long term success is all about combining skills and experience and to align together in joy and sorrow. Is this empathy? Or is it just being human and real?

As a senior professional, how do you rate yourself on all these soft-skills? We hope you are able to invest in yourself and bring these special skills to work.

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