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Hiring senior management comes with a significant amount of pressure. Top executives will likely stay with their respective companies for long periods of time. However, higher-level employees do occasionally switch jobs or retire resulting in an average of 311,600 openings for top execs each year.
Hiring teams hold a lot of responsibility when tasked with executive candidate sourcing. These positions are essential to the success of your organization, so learning the do’s and don’ts of executive search is critical to ensure you’re making the right call.
The do’s of executive candidate sourcing
Strong executive leadership is obviously important for guiding your organization in the right direction. In times of turmoil or unforeseen shifts, execs are the people you turn to to make path-altering decisions and lead employees forward. To hire someone capable of this type of executive leadership, you should be acutely aware of the qualities that will work well in this role. Some of the top qualities to consider include innovativeness, creative thinking, problem-solving and the ability to reframe situations.
Beyond looking for predetermined qualities though, you must prepare a unique strategy to find the best executive hires for your organization. Consider the following “do’s” when crafting this strategy:
Focus on diversity and inclusion. Diversity in leadership is a crucial part of your hiring efforts. The new exec will be shaping your organization going forward, and you want to make sure their diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) goals and values align with your organization.
Market map. The specific role you’re hiring for may have a relatively small pool, depending on the industry specializations and experience requirements. Once you’re aware of how many professionals exist in this sphere, you can set expectations within your hiring team and nail down the perfect recruitment pitch.
Offer relocation assistance. Make it clear in your job posting that you take applications from anywhere and are willing to help with a move for the right job candidate. Since you are hiring exclusively seasoned professionals, this will help you garner more qualified applicants.
Craft thoughtful messaging. Make it as easy as possible to reach a hiring manager by providing a low-cost, high-value call-to-action such as a 15- to 20-minute introduction call.
Co-source. Recruiters and hiring managers should collaborate to delineate the perfect recruitment strategy for an executive-level role. Conduct a calibration exercise with hiring managers to get everyone on the same page.
All of this preparation and fine-tuned strategy will allow recruiters to have a better idea of how to move forward with a broader executive search. Get feedback from all departments, as well, to see how they picture the role being filled in a way that fosters growth.
The don’ts of executive candidate sourcing
Recruitment, in general, is all about trial and error. Executive search is no different. However, you can plan ahead for any mishaps by realizing the “don’ts” to avoid when hiring C-suite professionals. After all, these candidates are unique in that they have years of experience and interviews under their belt. Some may not be used to interviewing after being in the same executive position for years. Plan out how you will handle each situation.
Here are some actions to avoid:
Going into interviews without a succession plan. Executives are well aware of their worth. Be prepared to let them know a clear picture of where you expect the company to be in the coming years and how that can benefit them.
Including fluff or filler words in job descriptions. Again, execs often don’t have time to pore over job listings or cold messages from recruiters. Keep your message succinct and informative.
Expecting a response on the first try. Leaders are busy. Sometimes, you’ll need to reach out three or four times to grab their attention and remind them to reply. Offer them grace in response time, and don’t bombard them with messages. Be mindful of the cadence at which you set your nurturing strategy.
Rushing or settling. An executive position has great influence over the trajectory of the company. The position needs to be filled, but that doesn’t mean filling it as fast as you can without finding the right fit. The extra time and resources will be worth spending in the long run for the right hire.
Above all, don’t forget about the candidate's experience. While you may experience some tunnel vision when trying to elicit a response from a high-level exec, you must remember to represent your cultural brand authentically. Otherwise, you won’t be getting the cultural add necessary to lead your organization. Even the C-level executives you don’t hire are gaining an impression of your brand that they will carry with them in other interactions.
Although nuanced, executive search is much like hiring for other positions. Be thoughtful and careful in your recruitment and the hiring process, and you will be well on your way to hiring the executive that will propel your brand forward for years to come.
Thank you to Senior Talent Acquisition Manager Mason Calairo and Talent Acquisition Team Manager, Seán Delea for providing their guidance and hiring best practices for this post.
Learn more about how Greenhouse can help you elevate your candidate experience to secure top talent.