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An executive search professional with over 25 years of experience in the industry, Lisa Knight, Managing Partner at Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge, has made a career of knowing what organizations are looking for in a candidate. Today, your ability to excel in a changing environment will be what sets you apart.


By Lisa Knight



Today’s job seekers are entering a market characterized by relentless and active flux. In both the private and public sectors, and in organizations of all sizes, change has become the only constant. New technologies are altering the ways in which organizations work and creating higher customer expectations than ever before. Digital disruption is introducing new market entrants into virtually every industry, spurring unprecedented levels of competition. These trends are putting organizations under exceptional pressure to evolve, innovate, and rapidly transform themselves.

Not surprisingly, they are also having a knock-on effect on job candidates. Gone are the days when the right experience was enough to secure you a job. Now, it’s just table stakes. Instead, organizations are coming to understand that business breakthroughs require leaders and team members who can drive results in an evolving culture. To truly capture the attention of today’s hiring managers, then, you need to demonstrate your ability to take part in—and potentially lead—the transformation.


The sought-after skills

Differentiating yourself in today’s crowded and changing market calls for a new approach to job seeking. Rather than focusing only on your job-related skills and experience, you must also showcase a growing array of social skills, interpersonal attributes, and emotional intelligence quotients (EQ). Ultimately, hiring managers are looking for people with the ability to:

  • Innovate. To deliver on spiralling customer and stakeholder expectations, organizations need people capable of taking measured risks, proposing new ideas, and advancing creative solutions to both existing and emerging challenges.
  • Demonstrate a high EQ. Experience shows that people with a strong EQ are highly-effective problem solvers. For job candidates, this means demonstrating qualities such as self-awareness, self-control, strong personal motivation, empathy for others, and the ability to collaborate and manage change.
  • Prioritize. Organizations are assailed by a huge range of competing projects and goals—which means their people need the ability to prioritize initiatives that align with the organization’s objectives, values, and culture.
  • Be resilient. Transformation is disruptive, which means sought-after employees are typically those capable of overcoming or quickly recovering from difficult conditions, and reacting calmly under pressure.
  • Exhibit agility. To remain agile, organizations must be able to respond rapidly to shifting trends or expectations. That explains why they favour employees with agility—those capable of confidently navigating changing environments, reassessing the effectiveness of their approaches, and adapting in response.
  • Provide measurable impact. Given the pressure to perform, organizations need people capable of making a tangible—and quantifiable—difference to their bottom line, productivity, or efficiency. Wherever possible, share metrics that describe how your actions made a measurable impact.


Finding a cultural fit

All that said, it’s worth remembering that there is a delicate balance between driving positive change and inciting negative disruption. That balance will be dictated by a prospective employer’s values, which is why candidates must understand the extent to which their personal values mesh with organizational values if they hope to fit into the corporate culture.

While a values match must take place on a case-by-case basis, certain behaviours can help you demonstrate your skill as an innovator rather than a troublemaker. For instance, consider providing examples where you helped introduce forward-thinking initiatives while still respecting the past. Show how you have engaged in cross-functional collaboration that moved the needle on a major initiative without negatively affecting the business. And explain how you helped change the mindset of existing teams or team members while still valuing alternative approaches and diversity of thought.

Hiring managers must assess literally hundreds of candidates for almost every job. If you hope to stand out, you need to share your ability to transform at the pace of business.


Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge helps companies simplify the complexity associated with transforming their leadership and workforce so they can accelerate results, with less risk. As leaders in Executive, Interim and Mid-Level Search, Talent & Leadership Development and Career Solutions, we assist organizations in finding new talent, and helping their employees navigate change, become better leaders, develop better careers and transition into new jobs.

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