Graham Jackson of headhunter Potensis reveals what employers are really looking for and how you can use this to get to the top
As a headhunting firm specialising in the construction and property industry, we are constantly looking to identify and recruit the very best talent for our clients. Because we recruit the key personnel for many of the industry's leading firms, we are at the forefront of changing trends and know what qualities employers are looking for and what is likely to get you the top of the career ladder.

So what is the key to success?
There is no magic formula to make someone an automatic success in the industry, but there are traits that all employers look for.

A common feature of successful people is a strong track record in their field coupled with a real desire to perform to the best of their ability. People who reach the top also tend to have the ability to operate as commercially-minded managers. This means that they appreciate the difference between good and bad business and can consistently deliver a profit.

What about people-handing skills?
Client-facing skills and an awareness of business development opportunities will always help personal progression. A modern and sympathetic management style is essential in today's industry – the most valuable asset of any firm is its staff and retention of personnel is a big issue.

Although there is a skills shortage and quality candidates are far from easy to locate, firms will not hire staff purely to fill vacancies and will leave a post vacant or restructure the business rather than compromise their standards.

There is no magic formula to make someone an automatic success, but there are traits that all employers look for

Do you need additional qualifications?
MBAs and postgraduate qualifications are increasingly in demand, as they demonstrate that a candidate has a wider interest in the industry than pure technical skills. Most large businesses are divided up into autonomous business units, meaning that the most successful staff must be capable of managing a business autonomously and should exhibit true entrepreneurial spirit.

What about personal skills?
While technical and professional ability is always important to a hiring company, the character and attitude of a potential employee is the most common reason that one candidate is hired in preference to another. Every client and every role requires a different person and set of skills, but there are many personal characteristics that firms consistently look for.

To be attractive to employers, candidates need to put themselves across as even-minded individuals who have confidence in their own abilities - but are not arrogant. Teamworking and people skills are very important, as is the ability to take criticism constructively. Successful people can appreciate their weaknesses as well as their strengths. And an ability to think holistically and appreciate all the factors that affect a business and its staff are expected.