Recruiting senior candidates for upper-level positions in your company can be a delicate dance that is markedly different from recruiting and hiring lower-level employees. Here are a few key strategies designed to keep in mind when you’re looking to replace someone in your C-suite.
Cast your net wider than your own network. This is one of many reasons an executive search firm is a vital ally in recruiting and hiring top-level positions. Your network is only so large, and the big fish might be swimming outside of it. A recruiter will have a huge network of candidates, even those who are still in current positions.
Sometimes, discretion is the entire game. In recruiting for top-level positions, discretion is the name of the game. If you currently have a person in the job, you don’t want word getting out he or she isn’t performing to your satisfaction. That’s just bad for business, and for your brand, all the way around. Also, the people you’re reaching out to don’t want their current employers to know they’re looking. So you need to finesse the situation, make ultra-discreet inquiries, and tread carefully to avoid stepping on toes. The importance of this can’t be overstated.
Focus on the first impression. When you’ve found your handful of ideal candidates, now it’s time to impress them with your professionalism, your company’s brand, your company culture and everything that makes you stand out. Unlike other hiring scenarios when prospective employees are dancing around trying to impress you, this is your time to focus on impressing your top candidates.
Talk about your candidate’s goals first. Whether you’re working with a recruiter or handling it yourself, the first topic of conversation with your ideal candidate should be about his or her career goals. What are they looking to accomplish? How might a position at your company align with those goals? Where does the candidate want to grow and develop? How does your company fit in? It should be about their goals and how this position with your company will help them realize those goals.
Be patient. This is especially true if your top candidate is currently in a position he or she enjoys. Leaving a position in which you’re comfortable and successful in order to sign on with a new company is a risky business. People need good reasons to consider it, and even better reasons to make that change. It’s your job to provide those reasons and outline what a position in the leadership of your company would provide, including salary, bonuses and perks in addition to the job itself. And then it’s your job to wait. There is a lot of consideration and mulling over life decisions at this stage of the game. When you make your offer, you may encounter hesitation. Be prepared to wait.
Keep in touch with your candidate while they consider your offer. Waiting is one thing. Dropping out of sight is another. Don’t disappear. Reach out and remind your candidate that he or she is your top priority. Ask if there are any questions you can answer to help them make the decision to come on board.
Don’t burn the bridge if their answer is “no.” Building the right leadership team for your organization isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. If your top candidate for your current job opening bows out of the process, that doesn’t mean he or she is gone forever. Things change. Many times, keeping lines of communication open and staying in touch can result in that top recruit coming on board in the future.
If all of this is sounding complicated, don’t worry. It is. That’s why you should use an executive search firm to handle this delicate process. Questions? Contact us and we’ll be happy to talk with you about this important process. We’ve been matching top executives with companies since 1969.