Confident or Cocky?

There is a huge difference! Most of us know the (glaring) differences between the two personality types. Well, everyone except the cocky ones – because, in all likelihood they will never read this blog post or any other material that could help them grow their career, their income or become better human beings.  No need to. Why, you ask? It’s simple, they already know everything so – don’t even try. Trust me, I’ve seen this movie over and over.

On the other hand, I love being surrounded by confident people you can spot a mile away, as their confidence precedes them. It’s a belief system, attitude and a can-do spirit that makes them wake up each and every day looking at the bright side of life. These people are positive and contagious and they add value and energy to most teams they work with. Give me a confident positive candidate any day and I will show you how and why companies need more people just like them! They make a difference every day!

As an executive search professional, I always like to meet with candidates in person or on video so I have a chance to see them and look them in the eye. That always tells me a lot. If a candidate gives me that “look at me” attitude, I can’t deal with it. I’m usually done inside of 30 seconds. I simply can’t take it and quite frankly would rather spend time with those who want to demonstrate why they are the best candidate in the land. They can speak to how they moved the needle in their career giving lots of other people credit or how they worked on team projects that had a positive outcome. They don’t really care who gets the credit. I like that.

Their counterpart, on the other hand, speaks a different language altogether. They literally start most sentences with a neon sign and the letter “I.” Sorry – not impressed. When I ask them to tell me a story about how they work with teams or with others to achieve success, they look at me like a deer in headlights. Why? It’s simple. It’s (always) all about them and to change gears and give credit to others is foreign to them and it’s not part of their story. EVER. They rarely say thank you, good job, it was great meeting you or anything that remotely implies they care about anything or anybody except the person in the mirror. My guess is they probably spend lots of time looking at their favorite person and have never met a mirror they didn’t like. Companies and clients (especially mine) will never meet the “cocky” candidate as they will never (ever) make it beyond the initial (few minute) screening. EQ matters. And… it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the value of EQ in today’s world and why it’s important.

Candidateswho exude confidence are a real pleasure to spend time with and I always feel better after hearing their story. It’s the cocky candidates that I don’t get – and coincidentally never spend any time with. Go figure!

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.