Do you know what hiring managers want today?

As an executive recruiter, I was recently talking to a client, a Director of Security at a medium sized company based in the United States, about two positions he’s trying to fill (Senior Investigator and a Regional Security Manager) and the specifics skills, experience and traits he is seeking in each candidate. I wish many of the security professionals that call me looking for new jobs could have listened in on the conversation because he clearly answered what many of these job seekers want to know: “What do HR Managers and Security executives really want today?”

In both of the positions he has open he has specific needs for the roles – however, a few personal characteristics were equally important to him as the technical and functional skills that were required for the position.

Those key personal characteristics could be summed up as:

Positive Attitude, Communication Skills, and Professionalism

He related to me how he believed these traits were the most important, yet somehow the most difficult to find. Recently, he let someone on his team go although the person had the strong technical skills for the role they filled.  However, they did a poor job of communicating with peers and subordinates in the job, and on top of that their professional attitude was declining. While they did an excellent good job executing the technical aspects of their job, this individual was not willing to work on the soft skills needed to succeed in the role.

The Director of Security told me about multiple candidates they’ve interviewed that possessed the technical knowledge and skill set required, however, they came up short when it came to projecting the soft skills needed. He expressed deep concern that he cannot afford, in our current economy, to hire average employees. He needs people that can not only do the job, but security professionals that represent his security staff effectively and positively throughout the rest of the company.

He noted that people often come to an interview expressing sour grapes rather than a positive attitude. They dress sloppy or inappropriately leading to a poor first impression. Answering basic interview questions, they tend to ramble or give one word answers to questions. They are unable to articulate ideas well. They appear unprepared and don’t know basic information about the company or position they have applied for. They can’t demonstrate an ability to ‘think on their feet’ during the course of the interview. Lacking self-awareness, they are not able to speak in detail about their own strengths, weaknesses, or achievements. Instead, they try hard to impress instead of showing sincere interest in others. This tends to come across to others as overly concerned with what’s in it for them.

So often I hear from job seekers something like this:

I don’t understand why I didn’t get that job! I was a perfect fit. My skills and experience matched up exactly with what they said they were looking for. They don’t seem to know what they want!”

Actually they do know exactly what they want, and usually within a couple of minutes of talking to the job seeker it becomes clear to me why they didn’t get hired.

The current job market is ultra-competitive. Hiring authorities have a number of qualified candidates to select from that have the technical competency or functional skills required for the position. The differentiators are the soft skills that sway them from one person to another. Don’t take those factors too lightly! It’s what separates those who get an offer from those who finish second in the hiring race.

Examine yourself critically. What kind of attitude do you display? What kind of first impression do you make on others? Have you prepared, researched and rehearsed? Do you articulate your thoughts and answers well? Do exhibit a sincere interest in them and the company? Do you exude professionalism in your appearance manner?

THIS is what managers want today!

Good Luck!

David Lammert

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