What do hiring managers want?

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image As a recruiter, I was just talking to a client, a Director at a mid-size company, about a couple of positions he’s trying to fill and specifics of what he wants to see in a good candidate.

I wish many of the people in my job search classes could have listened in on the conversation because he clearly answered what many job seekers want to know… “What do hiring managers really want?”

Certainly, in both of the open positions he has, he needs specific skills for those roles. However, more important to him than having all the technical/functional skills were characteristics that were critical for him to find.

Those characteristics could be summarized by…

Positive Attitude, Communication Skills, and Professionalism!

He related to me how he believed those traits were the most important, and somehow the most difficult to find. He recently had to let someone on his team go because although the person had strong technical skills for the job, they did a poor job of communicating with others in their job, and their professionalism (i.e. appropriateness, and attitude) was lacking. They did a good job of executing the technical aspects of their job, but did more harm than good when it came to working with others and helping them understand the requirements and process.

He told me about multiple candidates they’ve talked to that also had the technical skills, however, fell short when it came to projecting those other qualities. He expressed concern that he couldn’t afford, in this economy, to hire average employees. He needs people that can not only do the job, but represent his department effectively and positively to the rest of the company.

People come in to interview often express sour grapes rather than optimism. They dress inappropriately or sloppily making a poor first impression. They ramble on or give one word answers to questions, or generally don’t articulate ideas well. They are unprepared and don’t know basic information about the company or position. They can’t ‘think on their feet’ well. They act intimidated when talking to superiors. They are not very self-aware about their own strengths, weaknesses, or abilities. They try too hard to impress instead of showing sincere interest in others. They come across as overly concerned with what’s in it for them.

So often I hear from job seekers something like:

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 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.

This market is very competitive. Hiring managers often have a number of people to choose from that have the technical 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!

Examine yourself critically. What kind of attitude do you exude? What kind of first impression do you make? Are you well prepared? Do you articulate your answers well? Do you show sincere interest in them and the company? Do you exude professionalism?

THAT’s what managers want!