Recruiting executives often feels like a daunting task. After all, these leaders can make or break your company.
Here are the six most important steps when it comes to hiring an executive. These will help ensure you hire the best person for the job, ultimately leading to better decision making, corporate culture, and financial results
Step 1: Discuss With The Experts
While you may be a founder or executive yourself, it’s critical to speak with people currently in the open position or those who’ve hired for it in the past. Even if you have some experience with the executive position you’re hiring for, input from others can help you make stronger decisions.
Let’s say you’re looking to bring on a CFO. Your best course of action is to tap into your network and seek the input of current CFOs or people who’ve previously hired them. Ask questions such as these:
- How did you source your candidates?
- What skills must any candidate in this field have?
- What are some industry terms I should be aware of?
- What are some great interview questions?
- How should I craft the hiring process for this role?
- Who should I have on the hiring committee?
- How can I best close these candidates?
Chatting with these people before beginning the process of recruiting executives is informative and sets the stage for each step to follow.
Step 2: Figure Out Your Ideal Candidate
Now that there’s a foundation for how to begin recruiting executives, it’s time to define your ideal candidate.
You’ll want to sit down with the existing leadership team and decide on ideal attributes for this future team member. Here are the four main categories of executive attributes with some examples:
- Creative thinking
- Critical thinking
- Multicultural awareness
- Social awareness
- Finance management
- Global networking
- Organizational management
- Visioning abilities
- Talent management
- Organizational oversight
Consider what traits you’d like to see in your ideal candidate as they pertain to these four categories.
Need help deciding? We’ve written an entire piece on the ten most crucial executive leadership traits.
Step 3: Tap Into Leadership’s Networks
You’ve figured out what your ideal candidate looks like, but now it’s time to source some. Recruiting executives is similar to recruiting for other roles in that employee referrals (in this case, from your fellow leadership team) can produce some of your best hires.
As part of your executive recruiting strategies, engage your leadership team and ask them to tap into their networks. Figure out everyone involved in your organization who may have people in their network that could suit this new position. This can include advisors, board members, investors, and more.
Once you’ve figured out who to engage, come up with at least three convincing reasons for them to help. Otherwise, they may not be inclined to assist. These reasons should include the impact the new hire will have on the company, such as how they’ll grow the company, decrease pain points, and so on.
Everyone’s busy, especially leaders. You’ll need to make it as easy as possible for them to open their networks to you. To do this, minimize the amount of work they’ll need to do by offering to comb through their networks for them.
If someone doesn’t want to open their network for you to do the work, give them step-by-step instructions on how to reach out to potential candidates. This can include:
- Outreach templates
- Search terms for finding appropriate candidates (ex: “director”, “New York City”)
- Follow-up messages and timelines
- Quotas (ex: reach out to 3 people per week for 4 weeks)
Tapping into your current leadership’s networks is a huge part of recruiting executives the right way.
Step 4: Consider An Executive Search Firm
While recruiting executives can be done using only your leadership team’s network, this may not produce the best results possible. It may also take too much time.
When hiring for the executive or VP level, an executive search firm is likely the best way to go, particularly when time is of the essence. These search firms specialize in finding the best leader for your company and have far more extensive networks.
If you decide to move forward with an executive search firm, choose one based on experience in the industry and how well you communicate with the firm. Since these firms will be your partner in the hiring process, you want to work with one you get along with.
On the hunt for the perfect executive search firm? Look no further than Jennings Executive. With over two decades of experience recruiting executives from a select few niches, Jennings Exec is sure to find the best candidate for your open leadership position. Learn more today.
Step 5: Choose Your Hiring Committee
Great! You’ve sourced candidates and have them on lock. The next part of the executive recruitment process is to select an appropriate hiring committee. There’s a sweet spot when it comes to this group of people; you want enough perspectives to offer valuable insight, but not so many that it causes gridlock.
Aim for a hiring committee of 4-7 people. Choose individuals who can accurately assess those traits which you previously deemed critical in your new leader. Refer back to step 2.
While you can leave the responsibilities of committee members more open-ended, it may be more beneficial to assign specific competencies you want each member to dig into. If you choose to assign these when recruiting executives, do so based on the hiring member’s experiences and match accordingly.
Step 6: Properly Evaluate & Select Candidates
Particularly when recruiting executives, you’ll want a stringent method for evaluating and choosing potential hires. Diversity in finance and many other industries is lacking significantly at the c-suite level, primarily driven by conscious and unconscious bias during the hiring process. This is one major reason why you must come up with a candidate evaluation and selection system beforehand.
To do so, come up with the following ahead of time:
- Interview questions
- Evaluation metrics for during the interview (such as key skills and competencies)
- One neutral way to do this is to use interview grading rubrics
- Note-taking method while interviewing
- Follow-up schedule
- Must-haves versus nice-to-haves
- Diverse sourcing
- An agreement to never hire based on “gut” decisions
Using the six steps outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to recruiting executives the right way. All six methods will help you implement executive recruiting best practices to ensure you hire the right person for your open leadership position.
If you’re still looking for an executive search firm, check us out! Jennings Executive would love to help you hire the perfect executive for your company.