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Now Hiring? Leadership Language to Look For

Now Hiring? Leadership Language to Look For
Credit: Kritchanut/Shutterstock

As a hiring manager, you have a lot of criteria to consider when evaluating a job candidate. But there's one particular skill that companies are increasingly adding as a prerequisite in their job postings: leadership.

Of the job openings that job search engine SimplyHired analyzed in a recent study, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) asked specifically for leadership skills. While this requirement may be a given for C-level and executive positions, 52 percent of middle-management roles and 25 percent of junior-level roles also look for leadership skills, according to the study.

Besides "leader" and "leadership," the top five terms companies use to identify leaders in their job posts are strategic thinker, goal-oriented, assertive, self-starter and effective communicator. In an article on SimplyHired, author Eileen Hoenigman Meyer wrote that employers need to prioritize these soft skills when recruiting leaders, and the specific language used in a job posting can help attract candidates who possess these traits.

She provided the following examples of leadership-related language:

  • "Values creativity and flexibility"
  • "Facilitates constructive and productive communication"
  • "Fosters a culture that recognizes talents and strength of each member of the team"
  • "Embraces change"
  • "Well-developed interpersonal and relationship-building skills"

"See if there is room to enhance them, to outline more specific expectations about the leadership candidates they attract," Hoenigman Meyer wrote.

The challenge of leadership recruiting is that the required traits can be somewhat abstract and difficult to assess during an interview, if you don't ask the right questions. Susan Martindill, director of marketing at SimplyHired, said the best way to evaluate soft skills when interviewing a candidate is to ask for examples. [Soft Skills Matter: Can They Be Taught?]

"Interviewers can use the phrases, 'How would you ...,' 'Describe a situation in which ...' and 'Tell me about a time when ...' to determine if the traits they deem important are highlighted by the candidate," Martindill told Business News Daily.

For instance, when looking for evidence of effective communication, you could ask, "Give me an example of how you would change an inefficient process that is holding your team back." A strong candidate might talk about gathering feedback, gaining consensus and incorporating suggestions, to ensure that everyone — both those on the team and other employees who may be affected by the change — understands the new process, Martindill said.

"A less-savvy communicator may simply highlight a streamlined plan focused on the inefficiencies and how they were eliminated, without emphasizing the team dynamics and alignment," she added.

SimplyHired's insights were based on an analysis of 4.4 million of its job postings from 600,000 employers between May 2013 and May 2015.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran Business.com's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.