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Seven Qualities of the Perfect Job Candidate

We have had the opportunity to work on hundreds of searches over the years and during that time, we have observed and experienced diverse candidate behavior. During a job search it is understandable for candidates to be nervous or anxious. Sometimes, however, those anxious moments can negatively influence the client’s or search consultant’s perceptions of the candidate.

As we enter that time of the year when many people launch a job search, I thought it would be helpful to share how an executive search consultant would describe “the perfect candidate.”  Listed below are seven qualities that may help a candidate stand out:

  • Concise and Clear Communicator – Candidates who speak concisely and clearly about their career history and accomplishments are a step ahead of other candidates. Answering questions crisply with abbreviated content will win the day. Often, nerves can take over, causing candidates to ramble, speaking longer and faster. It is the number one criticism we hear from clients. 
  • Executive Presence – Business attire today can be very confusing. Some offices are business casual all the time or some of the time, others are very casual, while some require formal business attire every day. It is hard to know what to wear! It is always best to err on the side of caution by dressing formally unless the company tells you of its attire preference. Men should always wear a tie with a jacket and women should be in a dressy pant suit, skirt or dress. Right or wrong, first impressions do influence how someone perceives you. 
  • Being Prepared – Do your homework. Conduct research on the company and the people you will be meeting. Go the extra mile and develop insightful questions that go beyond information you can find on their website. This will leave a positive impression that you are genuinely interested and intellectually curious. 
  • Honest, Open and Transparent – It is always best to share your honest perceptions and feedback of a role and an organization with us. Let us know if your spouse, partner or family is hesitant to relocate sooner rather than later in the process. Informing us about other serious opportunities that are emerging is important. We can only help if we know these issues in advance, instead of at the last minute. 
  • Conscious of Interview Etiquette – Write thank you notes, either via email or by snail mail, every time you go in for an interview. Be thoughtful about your comments and personalize them to demonstrate you reflected on the conversations. 
  • Receptive to Feedback – We are working collaboratively with you and want to provide you with the best coaching and feedback to ensure you are successful. Listening and acting on feedback can be instrumental in moving positively to the next stage in the process. It also provides us with a reference point that you are open-minded and want to learn.  
  • Open to Discussing Compensation – Some laws make these conversations more difficult but being open from the beginning about your compensation expectations is crucial. If the salary range is a bit lower than you would be willing to consider, be honest about it. It’s better to have that knowledge up front so we don’t get to the eleventh hour of a search and find out expectations are not aligned.

Hopefully these insights will be helpful to you the next time you are out in the job marketplace.  It is a competitive landscape and the more you approach it in a thoughtful and authentic way, the better your results will be.


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