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International Business: Qualifications That Lead to Success

By: Kemal Sucu

Published On: January 8, 2018

Having the right people occupy important positions is key to the success of any business, especially when it comes to global trade. The question is, how can companies make sure they have the right people and manage their staff across international borders? Or how can applicants persuade companies that they are the right person for the position?

Looking Beyond the Resume

Hiring process often starts with the resume, as it offers a summary of the person’s skills and previous experiences. However, giving someone a position related to international trade based solely on the skills and qualifications that are listed on a resume might not be a good idea. Of course, there is no doubt that the person needs to be qualified: they should have a thorough understanding of international business and trade and have the necessary knowledge in the field. At the same time, a candidate who succeeds in an international business arena is not necessarily the one with the best credentials.

The resume is missing some key information. It doesn’t tell anything about the value the candidate can create for the organization. It doesn’t give any information about the candidate, who they are, what they believe in and what drives them forward in life. It is a poor reflection of a person; just a sheet of paper that tells what school they have attended and which jobs they worked at.

When it comes to international business, it is not as important where you graduated from, or what positions you’ve held previously. You still need to have proper credentials, as they are often used as preliminary criteria to be chosen for a job interview; but most organizations do not base their hiring decisions on those criteria alone. During the job interview, hiring managers are looking at the things that are outside of the interview: your values, work ethics, future goals and their alignment with the organization. In other words, they want to know what type of person you are, which is as important, if not more important, than your previous experiences.

Choosing the Right Candidate

So what are the unique qualities and characteristics a successful global trader needs to have?

Flexibility and Global Mindset

It is important to have the ability and the courage to represent and lead the business in an unknown environment. Working in an international environment means being flexible, being able to adapt to new settings, new rules, new agreements and new people. You should be open to the world, able to travel and to navigate through different parts of the world, including temporary living in different countries, if necessary. In other words, flexibility is crucial if you want to succeed in s global environment.

Openness to Learning

You should be confident in your abilities, but also be open and ambitious enough to learn. Success is all about growing yourself, be it through new experiences, people or continuous professional development. Remember: you are never done learning throughout your life, so it is important to always seek to improve yourself and your skills.

Owner’s Mentality

As a global trader, you are often the main point of contact and the key representative of your company, which means you have responsibilities. You should always be acting on behalf (and in the interests) of the entire company and never say “that’s not my job”.

Problem-solving Skills

Having a solution-oriented mindset is key in the global trade. Agreements are only made when both parties feel like they are gaining something from their collaboration, and you should be able to find solutions that would indeed benefit both parties. You should good instincts and good judgement in order to handle any disagreements that may arise.

Focus on the Results

As important as the journey is, it has to have a destination. As a global trader, you should think about your end goals every step of the way, in every action and every negotiation. Focus on the key inputs in your business and always ensure effective and efficient execution of business strategies.

Think Big

Don’t be afraid to voice out big ideas, even if they seem impossible or crazy. As a global trader, you should be thinking differently, looking for new and innovative ways to serve the market. Thinking outside of the box is surprisingly rare, and being able to do so will take you very far – even if people are not on board with you in the beginning.

Those are the mindsets and characteristics that many recruiters want to discover in candidates during their job interview. If you are really willing to build a career in international business and trade, you should work hard to develop those characteristics to ensure you succeed both in landing the job and in your future career.


Kemal S

Written by Kemal Sucu

A pragmatic, smart, and strategic International business strategist and new market researcher, Kemal has good insights into international trade and is full of great marketing ideas. Kemal possesses the real-life experience, academic capability and the necessary personal skills to help SMEs build up import-export strategies, enter new markets and expand their business activities in more foreign markets.


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  1. Gerard ORourke says:

    I think your topics for a successful international employee are almost complete. However, I have been running international teams for 23 years and the one thing that I found made for success was that the candidate had working internationally on their own effort (not a company transfer). This shows that the person won’t be stopped by the daily challenges of new countries/situations.

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