Hiring a top executive is not something to be undertaken lightly, but unfortunately, too many organizations have an unnecessarily long hiring process and it’s costing them good talent.
Your CEO, CFO, CIO, CTO, and other executives are responsible for effectively and efficiently leading your organization towards its goals. Without them, your middle-managers and other employees lack the guidance and support they need to keep everyday operations running smoothly. Unfortunately, even the best people move on to other opportunities, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself looking to fill a top executive position within a short period of time. Nevertheless, especially when it comes to a role of this importance, you should never let speed get in the way of making the right hire.
The following pointers will help you streamline a long hiring process, without sacrificing quality.
Nine Ways to Shorten a Long Hiring Process
- Know exactly what the position entails. Make sure you have an accurate overview of the role’s responsibilities and the skills required to fulfill them. This goes beyond simply looking at tasks — it also means knowing what kind of relationships need to be built with customers and partners, what kind of strategic planning is involved and what type of leadership style is required. It can be helpful to speak with subject matter experts either within your own organization or in your network to gain more insights.
- Know what characteristics would make for a good fit. Create a psychographic profile of the ideal candidate. This profile should describe the hard and soft skills he or she needs to succeed — not just within the role, but also within your company culture. For example, if your organization has a matrixed structure, then you’ll need an executive who knows how to facilitate collaboration between teams as opposed to someone whose leadership style is more siloed and top-down.
- Use your internal pipeline. Succession planning within your organization is key to getting top executive talent faster. Invest in your high-potential talent, giving them the skills and experience they need to advance when an opportunity arises. That way, they’ll not only possess the exact qualifications you’re looking for and know your organization inside and out; they’re also more likely to be loyal to you over time than incoming talent.
- Nurture your contacts and leverage referrals. As you build your network, make a note of people who might, under the right circumstances, be a good fit for your organization at some point in time. Keep in mind that people who are happy in their current roles can suddenly want to move for any number of reasons — such as the right opportunity coming along. In addition, referrals from your network, as well as from current employees, often make for the most successful hires. However, since you’re recruiting for an executive position, discretion is advised. First of all, you don’t want it known that one of your key roles is or will be open, since it could reflect badly on your organization, especially if the position is open for a long time. And second, you don’t want to compromise anyone else’s standing with their current employer.
- Work with an executive search firm. Executive recruiters have extensive networks of top quality candidates — including individuals you might otherwise never hear of. Since they already have established relationships with them, they possess insights into what kind of roles potential talent would be open to considering and can act as intermediaries for you.
- Recruit executive talent from struggling organizations. Unfortunately, there are always good organizations that are struggling. The good news is that their loss can be your gain, since oftentimes, their top talent will be looking for better opportunities. Research organizations in your industry that aren’t doing well, and evaluate the LinkedIn profiles of their executives to see if there’s a potential match. It’s also important to note that a growing number of organizations are hiring from other industries because sometimes a fresh look can inject a boost of creativity into an organization and propel it to the next level.
- Have a candidate shortlist. To work faster, always make sure that you’re considering more than one candidate for the position. This might be challenging for executive roles, but the wider you cast your net, the more realistic it becomes.
- Interview rigorously. When you’ve found an interesting candidate, you need to use the interview process to your advantage to make sure he or she is a good fit. Discuss the candidate’s experience and qualifications, find out his or her reasons for leaving their current position and ask why he or she is interested in your organization. You should also determine what the candidate’s long-term career objectives are and how this role fits into that picture. In addition, ask questions about the candidate’s vision for fulfilling the role, as well as how he or she would handle a specific challenge or opportunity that the organization is currently dealing with. It can also be helpful to get team input, especially when it comes to gauging cultural fit. Your people don’t have to personally like the candidate, but it’s critical that they respect the individual and can accept leadership from him or her.
- Know what you can bring to the negotiation table. Good executives aren’t a dime a dozen. The best candidates are worth something — and they know it. When you find a candidate whom you believe is the best match and you want to make an offer, know exactly what you can bring to the negotiation table, including salary, benefits, perks, relocation package, career development opportunities and more. By knowing up front where you need to draw the line, you can avoid wasting time going back to HR to see if you can offer more.
Your executives are the backbone of your organization. That’s why, whether you hire from within or recruit from outside your organization, it’s essential to find professionals who don’t just possess the right skills, but also fit into your culture and share your vision for your organizations’ future. Just remember that by keeping the above pointers in mind, the effort you invest in your executive search might be intense, but it’s also likely to yield a positive result in the least amount of time possible.
By Bryan Kirby, Vice President and Executive Recruiter with Kirby Partners Healthcare and Cybersecurity Executive Search. Get in touch with Bryan.