Finding the best employee to fill a role is crucial to any organization, but it rings especially true for top positions. When hiring C-suite leaders, the cost of a bad hire can be more than a monetary setback. You cannot undo poor company performance when your top executives do not achieve what is needed. After two decades in executive search, I try to develop a thorough understanding of what my clients want while embracing what my instincts tell me will ultimately and actually work. I have a few things that are time tested in my practice when it comes to the advice I give my clients when we embark upon a C-suite search.
1. Don’t Buy a Convertible, It Isn’t Always Sunny
Organizations often get hung up looking for candidates with relevant experience within their industry. Transformational talent isn’t something that can be quantified; it’s about discovery, innovation, and reinvention. Pioneers in a different industry can easily use their intelligence, creativity, and drive to transform the role you are looking to fill.
With Memorial Day behind us and as June, July, and August approach conjuring thoughts of fun in the sun, a convertible may seem like the most appropriate choice in automobiles. However, when hiring within your industry, seasons can change and you may find yourself caught in the rain without a roof over your head. It seems logical to hire within your functional industry, but the best candidates have the skill set to maneuver through many organizations and specialties. What I know with certainty is that when my clients’ competitors are not driving innovation at the level they are, it does not make sense to recruit from them.
2. Don’t Settle for ‘Available’
It is easy to say yes to the wrong person when you need a candidate for a role that should have been filled yesterday. Timeliness is often a requirement in the search process. Recruiting is certainly something that should be done with efficiency and speed, but great candidates are not always available when you want them. Keep in mind that the cost of a bad hire is immense. It can be a huge mistake for the long-term success of an organization to hire the best ‘available’ candidate. It can take hundreds of contacts to identify three or four qualified candidates who meet the needs of my clients. I never want my clients to settle. Make sure you actually have the right person at the end of your process!
3. Don’t Be Modest
Finally, when interviewing top talent do not forget to play up the strengths of your organization. Mention prior success, future plans, and sell the position with integrity and conviction. When recruiting at this level, desirable candidates know their value and want to be in a position that gives merit to their success.
There is no harm in mentioning your superlatives. Your goal is to get the candidate excited about joining your team. Don’t forget to let the candidate know you recognize their talent, because compensation can only say so much. Today’s transformational leaders are interested in solving big challenges and driving innovation. They want to work for an organization that inspires them to live their values.
I stand ready to help you find that next great leader!