The Road to ‘Top Talent’: Characteristics of A-Players

Top Talent

In the recruiting industry, we hear the phrase ‘Top Talent’ thrown around quite a bit. Synonymous with industry leading talent, these are the professionals that we continuously seek out for our clients every day; searching through resume after resume, uncovering every nook and cranny to find them. Many professionals strive to get to this point in their careers but, much like myself at one point, they end up wondering what this top talent did to get where they are today in their respective industries and fields. After looking at case studies of the people we place, several dialogues with the executives that run the startups we work with, and hundreds of hours of conversations with the executive recruiters at Millennium Search, I have found myself revisiting a few simple, yet powerful qualities. What does top talent do to become so in demand?

They work, a lot. And they work hard.

Despite the variation among job functions, this characteristic stands out well above the rest. Regardless of the path they take in their careers, these industry leaders don’t get there by taking it easy, working 40-hour weeks, and watching the clock. They pour their time and energy into what they do, dedicating themselves to pushing beyond the requirements of what is in front of them. They move to the head of the pack by outworking their peers. This isn’t the only characteristic of top talent, but it carries great importance by being their most common thread.

They learn. They learn some more. And then they keep learning.

They aren’t always the brightest, the smartest, or the most experienced individuals, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to be. They don’t have all of the answers, but they also won’t stop until they find one. And as the world changes, they make efforts to stay ahead of trends, learn new technologies, and stay up to date. There is always something new to learn, and top talent will find out what it is and absorb it, whether they have help or not.

They organize their lives, but not the way anyone else does.

Whether it’s their morning routine, the way they set up their workspace, or their hour-by-hour process, these top professionals seem to always employ systemization into several facets of their lives, whether at the office or outside of the workplace. Structure and routine tend to simplify their lives and eliminate the stress of the smaller, more trivial details the day, giving them more capacity to focus their energy on more important things. Most importantly, they find out what works best for them and run with it.

They say no. A lot.

I’ve heard this from Day One, and when I think about it, I have heard it my entire life. I probably hear it so much because it’s so hard to do. Focus is key. There is only so much one person can do, and that means selectively choosing what you work on, and passing on 99% of the opportunities that come your way. This becomes more important as time goes on, because by rising to the top, the demand for their time and work increases.

They embrace absurdity.

From their starting points, many successful companies begin with what is perceived to be a crazy idea or ridiculous concept. That is not to say that there aren’t bad ideas floating around out there, but success for these individuals often means giving thought to what looks to be crazy, and trying to be objective about it.

They stay positive.

I remember being in school, and seeing those dumb posters on the wall proclaiming ‘Attitude: It’s all about you’, or some such nonsense. Well, it turns out those silly motivational sayings couldn’t be more true. Keeping a positive mindset is critical, because so much can and absolutely will go wrong, in whatever you do. And without the right state of mind, you will be destroyed, with incredible swiftness. That’s not to say that top talent walks around smelling like rainbows and unicorns all day everyday, but you would be hard pressed to find an A-player without a positive mindset and a can-do attitude.

They make good decisions. But they also get lucky along the way.

Top talent puts thought into what they do, the choices they make, and the risks they take. Yet no matter how prepared you make yourself, how intelligent and confident you are, or how unbelievable an opportunity sounds, there is always an element of chance and a hint of luck that drives their success.

Millennium Search helps today’s emerging and high growth technology companies find top talent across technical, business, marketing and sales functions. Speak with us today to learn more about the professionals that we work with!

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