Written by RMI’s MD, Ken Kemp.

I attended an excellent TEAM conference recently, where we delivered three training sessions while we were there including a joint presentation from Sarah Gordon and Stewart Stone on ‘How do we attract, retain and develop good recruiters?’

We had several subsequent conversations on the subject about the key characteristics required based on the premise that recruitment skills can be taught if the raw material is there to work with. A couple of key elements suggested were ‘initiative’ and ‘resilience.’

Several days later, coincidentally, I came across a very insightful article by Amanda Smithson titled ‘Redefining Resilience’ which addressed the issue of testing for resilience as a competency.

The Oxford Dictionary defines resilience as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Earlier dictionaries define it as perseverance in the face of difficulty or adversity. More recent definitions, however, would place adaptability at the heart of resilience and reject the notion that the tougher you are the more successful you will be in favour of valuing flexibility and the ability to change your approach.

Today, rapidly assimilating new information and adapting at speed to change, disruption and adversity are seen as essential attributes of the resilient. In 2015, a survey by two British consultants sought to identify what might constitute adversity and stress in business life. Although volume and pace of work scored very highly, almost as high was feeling continually criticised and, even higher, was managing difficult relationships or politics in the workplace.

In Amanda’s article, she suggested the competencies one should evaluate in seeking to calibrate resilience in a candidate as:
• Self confidence – this, in relation to resilience, is a measure not of self regard but of self assurance and composure. Candidate scoring well here will perceive themselves positively and, importantly, will experience less self-doubt and less anxiety about how others view them.
• Positivity – an optimistic view of the world and of those around one can contribute hugely to one’s ability to cope with pressure and stress; seeing opportunity rather than disaster in setbacks and challenge. You could generalise this as a ‘glass half full approach’.
• Trust – often links to positivity in that it concerns whether you have an optimistic or pessimistic view of your colleagues. Those scoring highly on trust tend to see others as having good intentions. An organisation that seeks to build and support strong and trusting relationships within and across teams will reap benefits at all times but particularly in times of increased pressure.
• Adaptability – the inquisitive mind of the innovator is more likely to embrace or even relish the challenges of change. The adherent to the status quo or the Devil’s Advocate is the enemy of innovation and change.
• Humility – this may seem a surprising one but it concerns how strongly one values modesty about personal achievements. Individuals with low humility scores desire praise and recognition for their unique work and abilities, and are therefore more vulnerable when they do not receive it. Those with high scores can remain resilient and productive even when they do not receive constant recognition. Quite simply, they are just more likely to persevere.
• Determination – this includes courage and a willingness to take intelligent risks. Individuals scoring highly here will be comfortable with taking big decisions and with the ultimate ownership and accountability for those decisions.

Those possessed in high measure of all these competencies will stand in front of team members never to take praise but always to take a bullet. And amongst a number of other key traits required to be a top recruiter, it seems to me that ‘resilience’ should be right up there.