The Key: Loving Your Job

business woman holding shining key in a dark

I walked into my first interview for my first job with an executive search firm in 2006. I’d just moved back from Italy, and before that, had worked as a musician. I wore rings on every finger. I sat at the huge mahogany table, polished to a high gloss, in the well-appointed conference room in the John Hancock building in Chicago, and waited for my prospective boss to arrive.

When he blew in and shook my hand, I thought, “Oh, everything is fine”. Nothing had happened yet, but he put me at ease with a genuine smile and a handshake. Then he asked me about my life, what I enjoyed doing, why I was interested in this job – research and admin to a small team of Executive Recruiters, focusing on C-Level candidates. I told him I loved learning about people – what they did, what they wanted to do, what made them tick. I asked what he was looking for, too – what were the most important qualities he looked for when recruiting someone to join his team? He specified three things.

Curiosity, the Ability to Read a Room, and a Sense of Urgency.

  • Curiosity
    1. Real interest in learning about each search, along with the ability to ask questions and gather research until a true understanding of the need is reached
    2. The ability to efficiently hunt for appropriate candidates
    3. The confidence to discuss the role with candidates, and to learn from and about those candidates during those discussions
  • Ability to Read a Room
    1. Discernment of the best way to communicate with each client and candidate based upon their industry, subject matter expertise, level, passivity or interest, etc., with an eye on building a relationship rather than only filling a role
    2. Effective collaboration with others on the recruiting team, listening to direction, offering ideas, implementation and follow-through where appropriate
  • Sense of Urgency
    1. Get it done, whatever it is. Concentrate. Proceed. Keep getting better.

Eleven years after that first interview, through which I got my first job in this space, I still love recruiting. Really, honestly, the most important thing is actual, real, interest in one’s work. It keeps the head in the game, and it makes the game enjoyable. It’s a big deal, walking a person through the decision to take a new job. The far-reaching impact that makes can be enormously important to their life.

That’s where the sense of urgency really comes from. That’s why the recruiting function is crucial in a deeper way than just tactically headhunting to meet metrics or advance the client’s company line. Helping a candidate secure placement in a new job, a role that fits them like a glove, is truly satisfying. There are things worse than forging on in a job that isn’t a fit, but really, we spend the lion’s share of our waking hours working. We should enjoy what we do, feel well-suited to it, and see a bright future ahead.

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