competencies

The 6 Traits Hiring Managers Really Want

iStockphoto.com | Monkeybusinessimages

iStockphoto.com | Monkeybusinessimages

 

While every hiring manager tends to look for something a little different in a candidate for their open job, here are the six traits I've consistently seen managers look for as they conduct interviews.

TRAIT #1: Job Skills and Qualifications
REASON: Seems like a no-brainer, right? But when an employee doesn't work out because they don't possess the basic requirements of the job, it can be painful (and costly) for the organization to either coach the individual up or replace them. Since hiring can be risky, hiring managers often fall back to passing on an individual if they aren't sure they have the technical and people skills.
HOW TO SHINE: Read the job description before the interview; it will give you a very clear idea of the hard and soft skills the employer needs for the role. Eliminate the hiring manager's doubt by preparing and providing concrete examples of how you have used these skills in the past.

TRAIT #2: Likeability
REASON: No secret here. People like to work with people they like, who fit into the culture of the organization. Since a hiring manager will be spending more than a third of their life with anyone they hire and team chemistry matters, they may prioritize personality as highly as they do technical skills.
HOW TO SHINE: Use the manners your mother and father gave you. Smile. Be polite. Dress nicely for the interview. Send thank you notes. Come armed with great job references from former managers and coworkers who can gush at length about what a pleasure it was to work with you. And do your research about the culture of the company, so that you can talk about how well you'll fit in.

TRAIT #3: Team Orientation
REASON: Does the candidate know how to work well with others? In this age of cross-functional collaboration, teamwork isn't just a nice-to-have, it's essential.
HOW TO SHINE: Demonstrate that you've been able to move seamlessly into different working relationships based upon the needs of the situation. Talk about the times you've led,  the times you've been led, and how you've partnered successfully with your peers to get the job done.

TRAIT #4: Energy
REASON: The workplace tends to be a fast paced environment with heavy expectations, and a low-energy interview may work against a candidate. A calm and measured demeanor may be great for some roles (librarians and brain surgeons come to mind), but positions with rapid-fire deadlines require a bit more pizazz.
HOW TO SHINE: Convey a sense of excitement and animation during the interview. Sit forward in your chair. Provide examples of how you dealt with tight deadlines, adapted to fast-moving work environments, and successfully brought programs to conclusion.

TRAIT #5: Adaptability
REASON: Companies change priorities – often – and they need employees who can change right along with them. If hired, how will the candidate deal with frequent reorganizations, new assignments, and shifting deadlines?
HOW TO SHINE: Talk about the times you've had to adjust to shifting responsibilities and expectations, and how you managed to succeed in spite of these.

TRAIT #6: Growth Potential
REASON: In other words, is the candidate promotable, or will they spend the rest of their life in the role for which they get hired? Managers are often judged for their ability to identify and groom the next superstar.
HOW TO SHINE: Provide examples of people you've managed, mentored, and coached. Make sure your resume shows career progression, with added responsibility over a period of time. Were you an individual contributor (i.e., non-manager)? Talk about projects you've managed.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

Have I Stayed in My Job Too Long?

Is this day over? (iStock.com)

Is this day over? (iStock.com)

When I worked as a recruiter on the staffing agency side of things, we were told not to reach out to potential candidates about jobs who had been in their jobs for seven years or longer. Apparently, that was the perceived shelf life of a job - anything beyond that, the candidate was perceived as "stale." They were too stuck in the corporate culture to make a move, or too ingrained in their current corporate culture to appear dynamic or appealing to another employer.

This is all debatable, of course - it's opinion. While there is no hard and fast rule about job tenure, it is entirely possible to overstay your welcome at an employer.

Likewise, loyalty is a funny thing. Companies expect it from you – until they don't want it. I've seen employees who believed they held the company's best interests at heart by sticking around through thick and thin, and who were then selected for the first round of layoffs when times turned tough.

You may love your job (or you may not, who am I to say), but some movement in your career can be a positive thing. Here are some risks of staying with an employer or in a particular role for too long.

  • You've Become Part of the Scenery: You've consistently gotten things done. You've completed every chore that's asked of you, and you've done it well. But you're so ingrained in the routine of things that there's little to help your work stick out or get noticed. Your tenure tells your boss that you've been here a while, and you're not planning on leaving, so why change things up?
  • It's a New Regime: The department has new leadership, and the recently-hired Director is bringing in her own people who think like she does. You've been doing things the way your last Director told you to, and while it's not wrong, your thinking isn't completely in line with the leader. Simply put, she wants a new team.
  • Your Skills are Getting Stale: Different companies do things differently, whether its office dynamics, or the technical applications they use, or the day-to-day work you're doing. Maybe you're a COBOL guy, and it's VB world out there. A new position will teach you new skills.
  • There's Nowhere to Go: You don't have the skills to move up. Or the organization is too small for you to grow and develop. Or, they won't provide you with training to make yourself more marketable. Either way, dead end. Boring.

This isn't to say that you need to make a job change for the sake of a job change - there are many reasons to stay in a role, from salary to commute to job satisfaction. But it may be worth keeping an eye on the job market. I'm not advocating job hopping; that comes with its own ups and downs.

Here are some suggestions if you're concerned you've been in your current job too long.

  • Have a Development Conversation With Your Manager. Get an honest opinion about your career path and your skills. Try to find out how to make the best of your current job. You may not have maximized your opportunities.
  • Talk to That Recruiter. Sometimes you'll get a call out of the blue from a headhunter about a potential job opportunity. Take the call, make some time to talk, and ask plenty of questions about your background and the job opportunity. This might not be the job you want, but if you make a good impression, they'll keep you in mind for the future.
  • Look at the Job Postings. Comb the job boards to look at positions which may be a good match for you. Try to benchmark your skills and experience to the roles. Perhaps there is a better fit out there, or you can develop your skills internally to improve your current situation.

Tired of working for other people? Pondering the life of an entrepreneur? Find out if it works for you here.

Want to get noticed when applying for jobs online? Learn more here.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Accepting That Promotion

Our culture values ambition. History is rife with stories of leaders who have climbed the corporate ladder to attain executive leadership positions – and the public reverence and accolades that come with it.

Don't believe that we place our business leaders on a pedestal? CEOs' photos fill the newspapers' society pages, books crammed with their philosophies dot the New York Times' Nonfiction Bestseller List, and a prominent business owner tops a major party ticket in the U.S. Presidential election.

And why not? Business schools consistently drill into students' minds the value of upward mobility. Individuals who are elevated to increasingly responsible positions often demonstrate initiative, intelligence, and interpersonal acumen – all traits we value. And by combining these to get promoted, we improve our social standing, influence, and personal wealth. We get more power, and we get paid more money to wield it.

Climbing up the management ranks has its perks, but it also has its drawbacks. If you're currently an individual contributor (i.e., you don't manage anybody), consider the following about life as a manager before accepting that promotion to Department Supervisor:

  • Managers usually get paid more than non-managers. You will likely be rewarded for moving up the chain, as you are being compensated for taking on more responsibility and the additional value you are expected to provide.
  • Risk increases the higher you climb. Your paycheck grew when you took that promotion, but some of that money is hazard pay. Expectations on your ability to deliver increased with your title. In addition, there will be people who will be gunning for your job, who believe they deserve the position.
  • Managers are responsible for the results their department produces. In other words, your team may or may not meet its goals, but as manager you own the end result regardless of how hard you worked or how well you believe you directed your team or set strategic vision.
  • Supervisors are expected to lead their teams – and others. There's a great deal more to managing employees than giving directions and expecting the team to follow them. People are sentient beings with their own desires, perceptions, and ideas. Just because you ask them to perform a task doesn't mean that they necessarily will do it the way you want – or do it at all. A good manager can motivate, inspire, educate, mentor, influence, persuade, and cajole, modulating their message to their employee to maximize results. And he or she can also be a taskmaster when the situation calls for it.
  • Delegation is essential. If you're a detail oriented micro-manager, where you need to be in control of absolutely every detail and you have a hard time trusting others to get things done, managing others will keep you awake at night; you will worry whether your employees will complete their assigned tasks to the standards you expect and you'll be popping Rolaids like candy.
  •  Management is a different job. Let's say you started your career as an engineer, and you've been tapped to lead the department as Manager. You're going to find yourself doing a heck of a lot less engineering, and many more managerial functions: budgeting, resource planning, scheduling, hiring and firing, conducting performance appraisals and talent reviews, putting out fires, attending status meetings, strategic planning, fighting for resources, reporting, and so on...

Before accepting that managerial promotion, it might be wise to ask yourself the following:

  1. What is my tolerance for the additional demands this promotion will place on me? Am I prepared to play the political game? How about the extra stress and responsibility? Can I handle the extra risk? If you welcome the uncertainty and the challenge, it's probably a no-brainer.
  2. How well can I manage other people? If you've never supervised anybody before, this can be difficult to answer. But try to be aware of how people have responded to you when you've worked with them on projects or delegated assignments to others. Likewise, try to be aware of whether you can handle having other people do tasks instead of doing everything yourself.
  3. What would I enjoy more? The job I was hired to do, or the managerial responsibilities the promotion entails? If you're ready for some new and different challenges, management may be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you bristle at the idea of giving up a career as an Account Executive to manage sales people, then you may be better off staying in your current position.

Bottom Line: As you progress higher up in an organization, you will need to leverage different skills and competencies than the ones you utilized when starting your career. Before accepting the promotion into a managerial role, carefully evaluate the position, what will be expected of you, and the value you will bring to the organization, and ensure that your skills - and desires - are aligned with the new position.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.