Claudio Fernández-Aráoz –a regulatory recruiter with more than 30 years of experience tells a story about looking for a CEO for a small company. While working with the outgoing  CEO he learned a great deal and believed that the man he had helped to hire had all the right stuff.

 

He was a well thought of professional with the right schools and the right background. What’s more, he had worked for all the right companies. He’d scored remarkably well in every avenue. In spite of all of those things, he simply did not adjust well to the massive changes going on in regulatory and after three years of sub-par performance, he was asked to leave the company.

 

Why did he do so poorly?  He lacked one thing that simply couldn’t be tested—the ability to adapt to new and changing situations. He did not have that ability and as such was unable to fulfill the role for which the company had hired him and for which they needed him so badly.

 

The recruiters who have spent the most time tracking and finding the best executives in marketing, in regulatory and in food manufacturing agree on one thing—nothing is quite as important today as the potential and adaptability of the candidate. It is the harbinger of success at nearly every level, from the most junior executive to the C-suite and beyond.

 

Learning how to identify that potential and use it to find the right person for the job is imperative to your success as a recruiter. It is a new era of talent spotting. Intelligence, experience and performance in the past are only a part of the equation.

 

Potential is a fair amount of it but it’s also the part that may be the most difficult to ascertain and to discern than how competent they are. Not only is it hard to find but you’re looking for it in a marketplace that is the most difficult in the past ten years.

 

Senior talent is scarcer than ever before due to the vast changes in the marketplace in the past few years. Due to globalization, to age demographics and to the companies who are not properly developing a pipeline of future company leaders, it is more difficult than ever before for companies to have the leadership they need when they need it.

 

This problem is not confined to small companies or to large ones but seems to be universal. In 2014, Price Waterhouse did a survey of CEOs. The survey encompassed more than 65 countries and over 60 percent of those companies said that they were “concerned about the future availability of key skills at all levels.” In addition, The Boston Consulting Group cited research that showed that more than 56% of executives can see where they have critical problems in their ability to fill senior roles in the years ahead.

 

That makes recognizing potential more important than ever before. How then, do you accomplish that?  What is the best way to recognize the potential for a given job and to take the new method of talent spotting into account when you evaluate candidates?