How to attract superstars when searching for executive talent

Many businesses are currently in the process of evaluating their executives, determining who they cannot afford to lose and identifying the ‘B’ and C’ players they would like to upgrade. While today’s talent pool is rich, it is important to first understand what top executives are seeking in a position, and then determine the best way to attract that top-notch talent to your organization.

The game has changed in the last five years, and today’s top executives are focused on much more than compensation. While salaries and bonuses will always be important, executives are equally interested in a company’s vision and the strength of its management team. They are seeking work that has meaning and opportunities to make an impact on the company’s growth.

To up your chances of success in recruiting these talented individuals, first use creative strategies to build a strong applicant pool. Reach out to the trusted advisers who know your company best. This includes bankers, accountants, attorneys, and other members of an advisory board. Talk to these individuals about potential gaps in your business: What expertise is lacking? What functions in the business require more attention or oversight? Essentially, what are those missing pieces? These discussions can help you seriously consider what job functions new talent could fill.

At the same time, tap into social media to grow your connections. Social media is not only helpful for finding talent but for getting referrals and accelerating the interview process. Tools such as LinkedIn allow you to develop more trust in candidates and can help you gain a deeper understanding of their experience and their connections.

When you reach the interview stage, keep in mind that the process in this market has stretched into a longer course. In some cases, it slows due to business issues that must first be addressed. More often, it is because companies recognize the stakes are high with executive positions and the ramifications of hiring the wrong person can be disruptive and frustrating for the business. You want to get it right the first time, so invest the time to conduct thorough due diligence to increase your confidence in your selection. For example, you might consider asking a CFO candidate to write a business plan for what he or she aims to accomplish in the first six months of employment. This exercise can provide valuable insight over and above the traditional interview process and the additional time involved may be well worth it in the end.

The key to attaining top talent in today’s market is to think beyond traditional hiring means and keep your options open. Connect with trusted advisors, expand your network, and go deeper with the vetting process to help validate your decisions.

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