I spent considerable time with recruiters from many Fortune 100 companies in Q4 of 2013. It was great to hear about the qualities they were searching for in top recruits. From Amazon to Cisco to Apple to Intel to Chrysler to Bank of America, I heard numerous stories about great interviews… and others where candidates struggled. My main takeaways from those interactions include:

1. Candidates need to develop, understand, and succinctly convey their personal intention and be able to back it up with data-driven stories of accomplishment.

2. Candidates must do homework on the company that they’re interested in. Recruiters will ask, “Why do you want to work for _____?” and if the candidate can’t formulate a 2 – 3 minute response based on personal stories, information from the media, or data from connections inside the organization… he will likely not make it to the next round of interviews.

3. Candidates who have the most success are those who correlate how their personal intention can generate value for the organization they’re interviewing with. Taking the time to determine how a candidate’s skills and character can make an organization money, save it money, or mitigate its’ risk is powerful.

The takeaways previously listed are examples of what candidates attempting to transition from one function/industry/company to another can do to make themselves stand out. But, the underlying principles are the same for individuals looking to climb the corporate ladder.

Know your intention. Know the organization. Correlate the two and sell how you generate value.

As you consider what you’d like to accomplish in 2014, here are three things worth developing your goals around:

1. Take a Long-Term Orientation – As the pace of technology improvements and globalization quickens, change is going to happen in areas of your life and in ways you haven’t thought of. Create your intention statement and use it as a guiding star through 2014 and life’s tough decisions.

2. Develop Your Emotional Competence – Recruiters are less and less interested in your technical knowledge, skills, and abilities. They’re important, but they’ll only take you so far. What will get you to the next level in your career are “soft” skills such as influencing without authority, adaptability, or leading through change.

3. Educate Yourself – In December’s e-newsletter, I discussed how in the 1600s humans were predominantly entrepreneurs and how the beginning of the 21st century requires individuals to think and act entrepreneurially at increasingly higher skill levels. In 2014, consider getting an additional degree. Join a professional association and become certified. Read books. Conduct two informational interviews per month. Attend seminars. Learn continually.

Remember, every interaction you have is a chance to exude your personal brand, generate value, and “out-behave” others. Make 2014 the best it can possibly be by thinking long-term, enhancing your soft skills, and dedicating time weekly for education.