Executive Recruiting For Dummies
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These days, strong leadership is more important than ever. Companies with great leaders significantly outperform their peers. At the same time, globalization, attrition, and changing demographics have led to a scarcity of executive talent. As a result, the competition for top leadership talent is fierce. If you want to ensure your company's survival by hiring great leaders, you'll need some effective way to find them, hire them, and ensure they stick around.

High-performing employees: more valuable than ever!

Yes, high-performing employees — in particular, high-performing leaders — have always been valuable. But these days, they’re even more so. Here’s why:

  • Globalization: It used to be that your business competed with organizations in your region or even in your country. Today? Not so much. Now, you’re competing with companies all over the world. This includes companies in developing nations, where resources are plentiful and labor is cheap. That means your margin of error is paper-thin.
  • Demanding shareholders: Back in the day, shareholders expected results on an annual basis. Now, they think quarterly. Companies that can execute at the speed of a Bugatti will enjoy a significant advantage over ones that operate at the speed of a buggy.
  • Advances in technology: Changes in the technological landscape have driven an ever-faster business cycle — one in which only the highest-performing companies and employees can keep up.
  • Disruption: Radical innovation is the force that sustains long-term economic growth, even as it destroys the economic value of established enterprises. This explains the rapid rise of companies like Apple, Facebook, Airbnb, and Uber — as well as the precipitous plunge of companies like Kodak, Blockbuster, and Yellow Cab.

The only way to beat back these threats is to hire only the highest-performing employees — and that goes double for leaders!

Why top executives are in short supply

Right when top talent has become a prerequisite to success, talented executives have become rare indeed. There are a few key reasons for this:

  • Demographics: A lower birth rate in North America combined with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation has resulted in a contraction of available executives. In other words, when an older executive retires, there are few younger workers who are qualified to fill their shoes.
  • Brain drain: In the 1980s and 1990s, companies saved money by trimming senior management ranks. But that brain drain robbed them of their ability to grow the next generation of leadership.
  • Globalization: Companies in first-world countries have expanded their market around the globe. At the same time, so-called third-world nations have become economic powerhouses. As a result, the global need for executive talent has been pushed beyond our capacity to produce it.

If you want to win the war for top talent, you’ll need to bring your A-game to every executive search!

Top tools for the executive recruiter

As executive recruiters, there are some tools that we use every day. Some are websites geared toward connecting with professionals. Others are project-management tools. Some are for performing assessments. And some are to facilitate communication. Here’s a quick rundown of our top tools:

  • ZoomInfo: ZoomInfo generates summaries of more than 140 million people from 12 million companies. These include work history, education, and other key info, all compiled from multiple sources across the web. We use this cloud-based tool almost daily to zoom in on leaders who may not be listed elsewhere.
  • LinkedIn: Originally designed as a social network for business professionals, LinkedIn has morphed into the largest online recruitment resource in the world, offering a vast repository of information about passive candidates.
  • OpusPro: This cloud-based workflow-management software was built by a former executive recruiter, especially for executive recruiting. With OpusPro, everyone involved in the project knows at a glance what he or she needs to do and when he or she needs to do it. Trust us: OpusPro will save you a ton of time managing people and projects!
  • Invenias: You use this Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)–based applicant-tracking program in conjunction with OpusPro. It enables you to direct-source ZoomInfo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, BoardEx and the other services you subscribe to in order to create both your short list and your long list. It also allows you to track your activities on projects, parse and organize résumés and profiles, and create detailed reports for clients.
  • Great People Inside: You can use this cloud-based assessment platform to assess applicants before a formal interview. It offers numerous predefined assessment and survey tools as well as the ability to build custom tools that fit your needs to a T.
  • Bar-On EQ-I: We’ve used the Bar-On EQ-i Leadership Report from Multi-Health Services (MHS) for more than a decade. It examines emotional intelligence inventory (EQ-i) results as they relate to leadership skills. You can use the report for the general assessment of leadership strengths and weaknesses to assist in leadership selection, placement, and development decisions. It applies to most leadership functions, at the executive, management, or operational levels.
  • WhatsApp: Instead of communicating using regular SMS text messages, which can be intercepted, we use WhatsApp. A fully secure texting service, WhatsApp enables you to keep communications private and confidential — no easy feat when you’re recruiting a top executive!
  • Skype: Skype allows users to communicate via voice, video, or instant message. If you need to interview a candidate who is located elsewhere, Skype is an excellent tool.
  • Starbucks: “Is there a Starbucks nearby where you’d be comfortable meeting me?” We swear, we ask that question dozens of times every week. The Starbucks app makes it easy to find nearby locations and even order drinks ahead of time.

10 steps to executive recruiting success

A successful executive search involves a ten-step process. Follow these ten steps to find the right executive for your company:

  1. Assemble your team.
    This will consist of the hiring manager, the ultimate hiring manager, a search committee, the search committee chair, an internal recruiter, a sourcer, a researcher, a marketing copywriter, and a coordinator. (Note that some of these roles may be combined.)
  2. Perform a needs analysis.
    During this step, you’ll confirm the need and define your requirements.
  3. Generate the necessary documentation.
    Specifically, you need to generate a search committee charter, a job description, a position profile, a confidential candidate brief (CCB), an interview guide, advertising copy, recruiting scripts, reference check questions, and a standard rejection letter.
  4. Research the market.
    When you research the market, you identify two things:

    • Who to look for: What functional position, title, and span of control the ideal candidate holds
    • What to look for: What skills, competencies, experience, and accomplishments the ideal candidate has
  5. Source candidates.
    The focus of this phase is identifying possible candidates, both active and passive.
  6. Recruit candidates.
    This phase involves three key steps — paring down your list of prospects, choosing a benchmark candidate and putting him or her through the hiring process, and processing all remaining candidates.
  7. Interview the short list.
    During this phase, you’ll interview the top ten or so candidates who’ve made your short list. When you finish this phase, you’ll have identified your A-1 candidate.
  8. Check references.
    Before you extend a formal offer to the candidate, you absolutely positively must check the candidate’s references. That means soliciting the views of both direct and indirect references.
  9. Make an offer.
    In this phase, you close the deal by extending an offer (contingent on references). This isn’t a verbal thing; it’s an actual on-paper offer letter.
  10. Onboard the new hire.
    No, it’s not the recruiter’s job to train the executive in his or her new role. But it is the recruiter’s job to ensure the company is happy with the new hire (and vice versa). That means scheduling touchpoints with the new hire and with the search chair.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

David E. Perry has completed more than 1,000 searches on five continents negotiating over $300 million in salaries. His near perfect success rate is 300% better than the industry average? one reason why The Wall Street Journal dubbed him the "Rogue Recruiter."Mark J. Haluska works internationally to fill positions from upper- middle management to president and CEO -level positions. Mark is a self-taught recruiter and has packaged deals as high as $4.2M.

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