Best Tips For Hiring an Executive
Executives tend to stay in their jobs for long periods of time: five to ten years as a minimum and up to twenty or even thirty years is not uncommon. This can mean that when the time comes to find a new member of the C-Suite, no one is entirely sure of how to go about it. Here are eight tips to help you hire an executive.
1. Acknowledge the Importance
CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs – and thus known as the C-Suite – are the leaders of the company, guiding its direction, driving profit, and planning for the future. Choosing someone to add to their number – or replace a retiree – is not a decision to be taken lightly or without due diligence. Acknowledging the importance of the position that you are hiring for can seem as though you are giving too much power to the candidate, letting them know how highly you value their skills, but this should be inverted. C-Suite candidates are usually very well aware of their worth to the business, and would take any attempts to downplay the work with the grain of salt it deserves!
2. Make a New Mission Statement
Instead of dusting off the old job description used to hire the last executive, the recruitment team should sit down with the board to draw up a mission statement for the new C-suite direction. It could be that the last exec was given the job with orders to massively grow the company, perhaps even take it multinational, but now the watchword is austerity and cut-backs, closing some of those overseas firms, changing the focus towards newer technology or greener processes. Whatever the case, hiring an employee must have a clear mandate of what and how to achieve the board’s new aims. Therefore, these should be established concurrent with, or just before, they’re being confirmed in the job.
3. Headhunt Your Way to Success
Headhunters have wonderful networks and will have a good overall understanding of the ebbs and flows of the business, even before you have mentioned the executive you need. Taking your dilemma to a headhunter can greatly ease the process for you, as a reputable headhunter, such as those to be found at eagle-headhunter.co.uk, will take on board all your requirements, winnow through their extensive network and present you with a shortlist of possibles with whom to get in touch.
4. Sideline the Current Executive (Gently)
Avoid giving the current executive too much power over choosing their own replacement: people in positions of power find it very hard to release the reins, and they can be tempted to give advice, lay down the law about things that can actually be changed without harming the company, and generally overlay their image on the new C-Suite. This can sometimes be quite subconscious and happen even when they are resigning and very content to be moving on!
5. Investment of Time Needed
Once you and your headhunter have arrived at a good shortlist of three to five names, make sure you chase up any references you may have, find common connections and ask about them informally (preferably without letting slip why you are mentioning them!), and generally make it your business to find out what is in the public domain about them. Sometimes this can be enough to tip your preference from one candidate to another – or away from all of them, taking you back to your long list!
6. Keep it Quiet for Them
At this level, making the leap from one company to another can affect stock prices, scare off customers and send the rumor mill into overdrive. If your chosen candidate seems to be treating you like an illicit affair, do not panic that this is a sign of their untrustworthiness. They might refuse to meet in public, decline offers to see the offices or meet other employees and actively deny seeking a job with your company to the press. This is no reflection on you or your successful business: it may well be a contractual clause in their current contract which threatens penalties for causing – inadvertently or otherwise – a loss to their profits. This means that your candidate is more likely to honor your contract, so you can relax knowing that they are a person of their word.
7. Honesty Goes Both Ways
And speaking about keeping your word, you should be honest with your new candidate. If the company is struggling say so. If the vacancy is opening up because of issues with the current incumbent, forewarn your new hire. Quite apart from leaving them in the dark when it comes to potential issues, they can potentially sue you for breach of the contract once they realize they have been brought in to bail out a ship that is already half underwater without so much as a lifejacket in the way of a word or two of warning.
8. Don’t Be Scared to Say No
Sometimes what seems to be a great potential relationship suddenly sours on you. That jocular good mood now seems to indicate idleness. The flash of temper seen directed towards underlings makes you feel uneasy. A whisper – or even a look – from someone who has seen them at their worst can set your nerves on edge, wondering if you really have found the ideal fit for the company or not. You can always stop the hiring and interviewing process at any point before the contracts have been signed if you feel the need to do so. Trust your instincts as they are almost always based on something rooted in experience, even if you can’t put your finger on it immediately
Hiring a new executive is – and should be – a lengthy and complicated process. But with the help of a dedicated and reliable recruitment team, you can find the perfect addition to your company.