Recruiting is one of the hottest – and most in demand – professions today. In a profession where most people are highly skilled, I believe there’s one key quality thing that separates the good recruiters from the exceptional ones. A competitive spirit. Playing and strategizing to win ensures your staying power in this industry.

First, it’s important to absolutely be competitive with yourself. Set a high bar for yourself each year, and aim to do better now than the year before. As recruiters, if we aren’t bettering ourselves, our clients are greatly affected. Being competitive ensures we don’t settle for mediocrity.

But it’s also important to be competitive when it comes to your competition. It helps to keep you strong, focused, determined and always doing what is best for your clients and candidates. Because our industry is all about speed, focus and service, a competitive spirit is crucial to us delivering our best in all three areas.

Recently, my competitive nature secured my team pole position with one of my large, Fortune 500 clients. At one point, my client had many searches and brought in another recruiter – our competition – to help them source strong talent. Instead of stressing me out, being directly pitted against our competition only made me want to work harder for our client. Once I knew they brought in our competition to support their needs, I kicked up our search process even more. I refused to lose to our competition, and even more importantly, I refused to see my client fail with their critical HR openings.

It was a fantastic feeling when we soon edged out our competition and returned to being the top provider again! I have placed over 20 HR professionals with this client in the last five years.

As well as being competitive, successful recruiters always need two other complementary traits: An exceptionally strong work ethic and an ability to persevere. I believe there’s never any harm in friendly competition! I generally advise new recruiters to learn how to win – and lose – gracefully.