8 Vital Steps in Starting a C-Level Search
Hiring C-level and senior candidates is a highly complex, enduring and often emotional process. The stakes are high; the wrong individual getting the role could quite literally ruin your business - especially if you’re in the early stages. But, how do you know who is the right person for the job? Here, we’ll share with you eight tips for beginning the search for your next leadership infrastructure hire. From active listening to due diligence, it’s all here and explained.
1. Take a deep dive into your candidate experience
High-quality talent will not engage if they experience a negative or ineffective hiring process. The best people in the industry know their value, and they won’t waste time with you if they don’t think you’re worth the time. Work with your hiring managers and forensically dissect your interview process - what needs improvement? What is irrelevant? How do we keep things positive and persuasive? Take the time to assess what the best candidates will want and what will engage and impress them. When it comes to a genuinely two-way interview process, your preparation will pay you back many times over.
2. Focus is key
Hiring for C-level positions takes consistency of time, attention and effort. If you let those things lapse for even one moment, you could lose the candidate. Pay attention to what you’re doing and clear out time to find the right hire for the opportunity. Remember, you may be looking for a new senior colleague, but each candidate is speaking with you in the knowledge that this offer or decision could and should move the needle on their professional trajectory. Design your hiring process to allow you to be as invested as you can be. This will significantly improve your chances of keeping the candidate interested, engaged, and open to joining your business.
3. Don't make assumptions
Be clear about your intentions and your position. As we explained in a previous article, candour pays dividends almost immediately. If you’re honest and upfront, your candidates will reciprocate. This means being full and frank about the challenges you face as well as the opportunity. Actively listen to what they’re saying, what they want, and how you can get them in the door.
Secondly, pay attention to drivers and motivation: to what the true intentions of the candidates are. Some people may just engage with you to leverage their current company into offering them a higher salary or better position. Don’t assume anything, and actively focus on all possible angles when it comes to motivation.
4. Career moves at this level have a ripple effect
C-level hiring takes a long, long time. Even once they’ve accepted the offer, there will be considerable contractual agreements and iterations, often investor approvals and extensive notice periods. Take your expected interview and hiring time, and then double it - things will come up and hurdles will arise. Secondly, when evaluating your search process, place the current make-up of your team front and centre. How will this candidate work with other members of your senior-level team? Will they fit the culture, values and ideals of your business? Focusing on this will save you time and unexpected surprises further down the line.
5. Involve the leadership team from the start
This ties in strongly to the idea of not making assumptions. Keep all your stakeholders focused and invested from the get-go. You may have an idea of what this position needs or entails, but other core senior stakeholders may have a completely different understanding. Sit down with all the relevant individuals, and really analyse what this job needs. Understand the weighting of their desired criteria, and the non-negotiables or blockers. Again, this will save you plenty of time in the long run and avoid any last minute misunderstanding or misalignment.
6. The hard work starts after the offer is made
Negotiating an accepted offers can be a difficult process with many moving parts. Finding a win-win can be exceedingly difficult, especially for C-level candidates. As with the above step, involving leadership and often investors from the beginning can allow you to understand the bands and limits of what you can offer.
Not sure on how to extend an offer? Don’t worry, we have a guide for that. We even have a guide on how to extend equity to employees, adding an extra weapon to your arsenal when it comes to offer negotiation.
7. Spread the net wide
Your dream candidate may not be in the place you expect. Think outside the box - simply reaching out to competing companies and industry leaders may not be enough to find your ideal candidate. Remember, the highest value talent is almost always currently employed. Use your resources to discover the key players in businesses you admire, and even to discover new industries that may be helpful to you.
Remember, this year made it possible for you to hire anyone from any country. The entire globe is a potential candidate for you - look outward and spread the net wide.
8. Read what the candidate wants
Active listening is one of the most vital tenets of a recruiter’s skillset. From the very beginning of your search process, be upfront and honest - that way, the candidate will feel comfortable doing the same.
Along with actively listing all of the needs and expectations of the candidate, pay attention to what they don’t say. Things gone unsaid could be either from the candidate having no interest in them, or feeling uncomfortable mentioning them. Take the wheel and cover all the bases - ask them about all their needs and demands. From personal circumstances to work life balance to salary, it will all have to come together in the end for the offer stage anyway.
An expert eye
As mentioned, a good or bad quality senior hire has the potential to make or break your company. Take the time, focus, and energy needed to ensure you really have the right person for the job. Or, to save you time, money, and energy, look into our executive service. We have hired C-level candidates for corporations, companies, and startups all over the world. With our expert team, you can relax knowing that we are using our knowledge, connections, and experience to find you the highest-value candidates for your position.
Reach out to us to learn more about our senior-level hiring process.
Interested in joining our team? We’re also always on the lookout for senior candidates that can be there to help us find the next round of leadership superstars for our clients.