It’s no secret that senior executives make a profound impact on the productivity and culture of a company.
But as with any leadership position, the stakes are high when it comes to making a hire. Make the wrong hire and your organization spins its wheels. Make the right hire and your organization is in steady stands over the mid and long-term.
All this points to the importance of the recruitment process. After all, it’s not as easy as putting together a job description, posting it on Indeed.com, and picking the best from a huge batch of applicants.
The talent pool is smaller for C-suite positions like culture fit and working style matter a great deal because it is the people in these roles that lead the company both internally and externally.
There are several recruitment methods for senior level employees out there. Some work, many of them do not. And in 2022, as the talent pool continues to shrink and the competition for those talents seems to only get more intense, it’s important to know where to focus resources. Who better to trust than experienced senior executive recruitment experts?
Here we share a comprehensive guide for how to hire senior executives. Our guide is complete with tips and suggestions for how to make the right decision each step of the way.
- Stage 1: Develop a Robust Candidate Pool
- Stage 2: Populate a talent pool
- Stage 3: Finding (and Keeping!) Great Candidates
- Stage 4: Interviews
- Stage 5: Making offers and closing the deal
Focus on the recruitment methods for senior level employees we share in this guide. You will put your organization in the best possible position for capturing top executive talent before your competitors.
Stage 1: Develop a Robust Candidate Pool – recruitment methods for senior level employees
Starting at square one means developing a talent pool. But you cannot populate a talent pool without knowing what sorts of roles and responsibilities the new hire will be expected to manage. That’s why it’s important to approach the talent pool of candidates in two steps.
Step 1 – Build an “ideal profile”
Before any serious research into candidates begins, all the key stakeholders need to come together and agree on a profile of the ideal candidate.
Then complete with his roles, responsibilities, and some general expectations in the position. Consideration should also be given to culture fit and working style. Important factors to consider in creating this ideal candidate include, but are not limited to:
- Industry. If your organization is looking to hire a chief executive officer, chief financial officer, president or vice president, it’s critical to lay out the domain experience the ideal candidate has. Do you want a leader with plenty of industry-specific experience or someone looking to transition into a new role? The answers to these questions will shape who you look for.
- Experience. How much experience should the new hire have? And in what roles? Putting a number down will help guide initial recruitment efforts. But be cautious not to over emphasis experience in place of other attributes like skills, working style, and vision. In 2022 it is more common than ever to give opportunities to younger talent: those who can steer the ship for ten to twenty years.
- Expectations. Every candidate will want to know what is expected of them on the job. It’s best to lay out a few general expectations at this early stage to frame the kinds of discussions the recruitment team will have with candidates.
- Compensation. If you want top talent you have to be ready and able to afford it. An appealing compensation package, no matter how it’s structured, is a requirement before negotiations begin. Important for both the organization (who needs to set a limit on what they can allocate) and the candidate (who will know their worth in the market).
- Culture fit & working style. Culture fit and working style do not necessarily go hand-in-hand, but they should both be considered at this early stage. Is there a specific leadership style all the stakeholders are interested in? Going as deep into these questions as possible before speaking with candidates is critical to finding the right match.
Once all the stakeholders have agreed on a general profile of the ideal candidate it’s time to move on to stage 2: populating a talent pool.
Stage 2: Populate a talent pool
A talent pool does not come out of nowhere. It comes out of intentional, targeted research. In recruitment efforts for senior employees in 2022, there are many places to look. In this research stage the goal is to collect as many high quality potential candidates as possible. To do so, organizations can look internally, externally, or both.
Option 1: Internal search
Another fruitful area of internal talent acquisition is through promotions. The recruitment team can make a list of potential candidates that could fit the new role, and proceed to interviews.
The bonus here is that soft skills like culture fit, working style, and personality are already accounted for because everyone within the company is familiar with these folks. The disruption of bringing someone new into a leadership position is not a factor in this scenario.
One of the best places to start a search is within your organization’s own talent databases. Many talented and potential qualified individuals have probably been interviewed for positions but were not hired for one reason or another.
If their profile is a close match to the ideal profile established by company stakeholders then reaching out to them is a wise first step. Think of it as the low-hanging fruit of the recruitment selection process.
Option 2: External search
In looking outside an organization there are plenty of strategies to consider. There is direct advertising, which involves placing job adverts online on the company career page, job boards, industry publications, and social platforms like LinkedIn. All have a potential to pull in high quality candidates. They are easy and fast to use, but the more your organization invests in these sources the more diluted the key candidate pool is likely to be.
Option 3: Partner with an Executive Search Firm
Executive search firms, also known as headhunters, are a reliable way to collect a group of highly-qualified, relevant candidates. When you work with an executive search firm like Metivier, you engage a partner in the task of finding the best candidates for your opening.
There are two fundamental benefits to going this route. First, from a resource allocation perspective, working with a recruitment firm is cost-effective.
Recruitment firms are efficient in finding candidates and filling roles because that is the service they offer corporations. A set amount of capital will need to be set aside for the recruitment, but no manpower internally is required.
Consider the alternative: managing the search internally. When budgets are stretched and teams are already working close to their capacity, it can be difficult to find the time, and energy within your organization to sort through applications and find the best candidates.
And if the task is not a high priority, or is undertaken by a HR team with limited resources, the hiring process can drag on, costing more in time and money while a vital leadership position remains vacant.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, in hiring a professional executive search firm, you increase the likelihood of sourcing exceptional talent.
This is made possible by relying on the quality service of the sourcing partner. At Metivier, we have years of experience and industry knowledge at our disposal. We are professionals at placing top talent in open executive positions across several industries and positions.
We have long-standing relationships with several corporate clients in Quebec who rely on us to fill crucial C-suite positions. We also help executives with career transitions, career coaching, and professional development.
The level of specialization and experience combined with the networks that come with the job are unparalleled benefits and can certainly make the process of finding talented candidates quick and seamless for your organization.
Option 4: Referrals
One of the most effective ways to recruit top talent without spending too long is through referrals. With referrals, employees are incentivized to suggest one of their peers for the job opening.
Referrals are an excellent way to find quality candidates. They come through the networks of existing employees who, in most cases, are aware of the demands of the job and may know someone who fits the profile.
Once your organization has established a profile of the ideal candidate and begun populating a talent pool through internal and/or external selection methods, it’s time to consider what to do when a top talent applies.
On to stage three: what to do when you find suitable candidates.
Stage 3: How to find (and keep!) Great Candidates ?
By this stage of the hiring process, your organization should have a sense of how aligned your ideal candidate profile is with the applications. It might be the case that the quality of applications coming in is nowhere close to the features outlined in the ideal candidate profile (Stage 1).
If that’s the case, then you can choose to expand your search methods, re-think your ideal candidate, or both. It becomes a waiting game as your recruitment team tweaks and adjusts their approach to find the right fit.
But if there is alignment between your organization’s ideal candidate and the types of candidates showing interest in the job, then there’s no time to waste. If there is one lesson to be learned from years of senior executive recruitment experience it is this: when you find great candidates, act fast!
The key here is to fast-track candidates that tick a lot of boxes. There is a myth out there that the ideal candidate – one with the exact right profile your organization is looking for – is out there somewhere just waiting to find a home.
In reality, business leaders and their recruitment teams are working in highly competitive industries where exceptional talent is in short supply. The lesson: when top talent comes along, make securing their employment a priority.
Stage 4: Interviews
Stage four in this recruitment method for hiring senior level employees is all about interviewing. By this point in the journey, your hiring team should have selected a small group of qualified candidates to be interviewed.
While every organization will have their own process around interviewing, there are two important factors that all organizations need to get right if they are to secure talented senior level employees.
Factor #1: Don’t waste their time
Senior executives are busy people. They have a full-time job with another firm while they are talking with your hiring team. They are also probably being courted by other organizations.
Most of all, they have a sense of what their time is worth and, if they feel it is being wasted on meaningless conversations, they will quickly lose interest. In order to respect the time and experience of a senior executive, it is often wise to set up an initial conversation between the candidate and the hiring manager.
Have them review the expectations of the role, the direction the business wants to go in, company culture, and other relevant factors. Then, if the candidate is still interested, they can proceed to a formal interview.
Factor #2: It’s a two-way street
Senior executives tend to stay with companies for years. They want to find a job where they can settle in, put down roots, and build a lasting reputation. It’s important to remember that they are assessing the opportunities within a company just as much, if not more, than the company is evaluating them. If a candidate feels they are being overly scrutinized then they will go somewhere else.
Once a handful of candidates have been selected from the interview process, it’s time to consider making offers and closing the deal.
Stage 5: Making offers and closing the deal
When making an offer to a senior executive, consider these tips:
- Personalize the terms. There is nothing more appealing to an executive than a contract that respects their position and shows a path forward that includes performance bonuses based on their success and the success of the business. A hiring manager should only make an offer that shows a level of respect to the candidate. The best way to show respect is to personalize the terms based on the candidate’s preferences.
- Patience is a virtue. It is rare for a contract to be signed, sealed and delivered overnight. Executives are experienced business leaders who will know to take their time and negotiate terms. They will also likely need time to discuss with their peers and family before making a decision. If your hiring team is constantly following up asking for a response the candidate may get cold feet. A quick follow-up after a few days to check in sends the right message. Expecting an answer within that time sends the wrong message.
Trust in the team & process
If you follow the five stage plan laid out in this guide, your organization will be in the best position possible to hire top senior level talent in 2022. There is no secret sauce for how to hire senior executives today: recruitment methods for senior level employees can take many forms.
What matters most is the process your hiring team relies on to collect, review, interview, and eventually hire senior level leaders that steer your business to success in the future.