What companies are looking for in new hires

Throughout Q1 we\’ve heard of a number of companies, manufacturers and distributors, who have undergone some \”cost reductions\” (the euphemism for layoffs).  This has created opportunities for others in a hiring mode to be more \”selective\” in their hiring.  Some are hiring opportunistically, others have openings. So we decided to ask John Salvadore, GRN Coastal Recruiters, who focuses on the electrical industry, what he is seeing from his electrical manufacturer and distributor clients:
Today\’s hiring climate varies greatly based upon the business sectors that you are working in. Nevertheless, we are seeing some trends which seem to appear repeatedly.

Technology skills are at a premium

  1. Whether you are an industry “rookie” (<5 years) or a seasoned veteran , the use of technology is at a premium. If you can’t speak about your usage of it or you don’t use it / are not comfortable with it, it can be a reason why they don\’t include you / continue the process. Facetime, Skype, understanding CRM, SFA (or Salesforce), marketing automation may be considered \”expectations\”.
  2. Sales management candidate’s skills need to be crisp. The expectation for all higher level sales executives is strong vision, strategy and core sales management skills with a deep technical ability, an up to date understanding of the client’s product mix and the competitive  Have it all, you can win the role.  Missing much the opportunities quickly become downgraded. Investing in pre-interviewing research helps differentiate amongst candidates.
  3. Companies are picky when they are looking at higher priced talent. They want someone local to the marketplace (relo allowances are few and far between) and understands the geography and landscape. They want the well packaged sales executive that can also add value themselves, someone that can be in front of customers talking about the products / technology and presenting solutions themselves.

Ability to do more

  1. Clients want executives that can do more. Does the sales executive have e-commerce, marketing, business development or other adjacent skillsets that make him/her more valuable because they lend expertise in more than one area?

Communication skills

  • Technical specialists and engineers that have deep product understanding, that are technical experts and have customer facing skills plus the ability to sell and close deals are in high demand. It’s all about being in a revenue-generating, profit-making role.
  • The days of being the technical expert sitting in the office are over.
  • Technical experts that can wear the trainer hat are also very valuable.


In construction sales, the sales rep that can add value by being a technical extension of his customer’s team is in demand. Are you the type of rep that can do a switchgear layout and reconfigure it to save the customer money? Do you have skills in LED lighting and can you analyze an opportunity and do a payback analysis? These financial sales skills are valuable.

College hire and employees with 3-5 years of experience


Just as a major league baseball scout looks at a high school prospect with an eye to the future, hiring managers are looking at candidates in the same way. Clients are looking for the “high potential” employee. They make an initial hire considering a role beyond the one they are hiring for. They look at top talent and project where this person could be in 2,3 4 years.


  1. Over 50% of clients are using predictive index testing to get another view on potential hires
  2. All types of candidates are being tested….management, sales, operations….leadership and staff positions.
  3. The results are not a knock out, but poor results can hurt as they can raise red flags. Companies are risk-adverse. They only want to hire “the right candidate.”

Culture fit

  1. It all starts with attitude. In the end, hiring companies want someone that fits their culture.
  2. In a culture where more and more employees are wearing multiple hats, the ability to collaborate, share ideas and listen is crucial.

These are just a few insights that we have seen over the past year, feel free to call us for more detailed insights.
The market may be tighter but there are opportunities in the market. Companies like Graybar and WESCO, while you may hear of people making changes, they continue to hire as we\’ve seen evidence of position openings. And remember, the hidden job market comes through networking and trusted industry recruiters (which there are a few in the electrical space and some that focus lighting and I recently ran across one for automation.) Geography can be a limitation but …  And for those who are looking, good luck.
If you\’re a company seeking talent consider posting your opportunity on the ElectricalTrends jobs section.

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