10 Things Employers Need to Know When Recruiting Executive Level Candidates

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Filling a position in your company isn’t easy under any circumstances, and the higher up the ladder you go, the more difficult it becomes. When it comes to executive level candidates, you’re not just looking for someone with the right skills and experience on paper. You want someone who will really fit in with your company’s dynamic and add value to your organization. How do you bring someone like that into your fold? Here are 10 things you need to know about recruiting executive level candidates.

Planning is Key

The first thing you need to do, before doing any recruiting, is to sit down and create a profile for your ideal candidate. This means more than just education and experience. What kind of personality do they have? How do they approach challenges and resolve problems? How do they interact with both their superiors and their subordinates? In addition, there are issues to determine such as what kind of salary and benefits you’re able to provide, and how high you’re willing to go in negotiations. You might not be able to find someone who fits the bill exactly, but the more detailed you are in outlining who you’re looking for, the better you’ll be able to recognize the right candidate when they come along.

It’s About Making Connections, Not Reading Resumes

Putting listings on job sites is great, but more important is networking. You’re more likely to land someone with whom you’ve made an actual connection, or who at least knows your company and what it’s all about, then someone who filled out your application along with a dozen others online. Social media works well in this regard. By simply posting your job listings on your social media profiles, you open yourself up to a group of people who already have enough interest in your company to connect with it online. It also helps to cultivate relationships wherever you go: conferences, trade shows, etc. By making these connections and staying in touch even when you’re not actively looking for job candidates, you’ll have a great starting point once you finally are.

Assessment Tools Can Help

You’ve cast your net broadly. You put listings on all the major job sites, plus social media and your other networks. Now, a myriad of applications are flowing in. The bigger the pool, the more likely you’ll be to find the perfect candidate. But in order to do that, first you’ll need to weed out the unqualified ones—and that can take some time. The best way to do it quickly is with an online assessment tool. Along with the basic application, have each candidate fill out an assessment questionnaire. It will gauge their aptitude in a variety of different areas, from leadership to teamwork to problem solving skills, and more. The questionnaire can also be tailored to your company’s specific needs and environment. Then, an analytics program automatically determines which are the best candidates for your organization, and which are unqualified, a poor fit, etc. You’re then left with a small pool of highly qualified candidates who are ready to move on to the interview process—in much less time than it would take your organization to go through every application by hand.

They’re Evaluating You Too

For an intelligent and well-qualified candidate at the executive level, it’s a safe bet you’re not the only company they’re interviewing with. So the question becomes, why should they choose to take a position with your organization, as opposed to one of the others? So while you’re evaluating them, they’re doing the same to you. During the entire hiring process, from the moment they first see your name, through each stage of interviews, up until the moment you make them an offer, your executive level candidates are looking at what you have to offer them. So put your best foot forward.

Their Time Is Valuable

A couple of rounds of interviews may be necessary to narrow your list down to a single candidate, but don’t draw things out longer than you have to. They’re busy people, and if you’re going to bring them into your company, you owe it to them not to waste their time or force them to jump through extra, unnecessary hoops. Get your candidates in a room with your hiring manager from the beginning, so they know they’re dealing with the person who makes the ultimate decision, rather than someone who may or may not recommend them to someone else. It is still important to get multiple people’s opinions, to minimize bias, but they can still meet everyone on a single day, rather than forcing them to come back two or three more times. Showing them you respect their time shows that you respect them as well, and goes a long way towards bringing them aboard your organization.

Money and Benefits Aren’t Everything

When we say “what you have to offer them,” we mean more than just starting salary and vacation time. Especially at the executive level, job candidates are looking at what your office environment is like, what kind of opportunities you have for advancement, whether or not you can provide a flexible work schedule to accommodate things like picking up their kids from school, and more. In fact, if you can give them something they really care about, they may be willing to join your company over another that pays more, but doesn’t have what they want.

You’ll Need to Negotiate

Particularly if your ideal candidate has several other offers on the table—or if you’re trying to recruit them away from their current job—they’ll likely have at least a couple of requests of their own. It may be additional money or benefits, or it may be something else. This is where the planning from #1 comes in. It’s important to know in advance exactly how far you’re willing/able to go to accommodate their needs. If their demands take you by surprise, you may find yourself giving in to more than you can reasonably afford to.

You May Need a Backup Plan

Ultimately, even if you present them with the best possible offer, your top choice to fill the available position may decide to go in a different direction. There may be any number of reasons why, many of which have nothing to do with you or your company at all. But it’s important to be prepared. Choose your top three or four candidates, so that if one falls through, you can just go to the next one. Just be sure not to let them know they were your second choice, or make them feel like you would have rather had someone else. Nobody likes that.

You Should Keep the Resources You Gain

So let’s say your top choice does agree to work at your company. Keep in touch with the other three or four candidates on your list, and anyone else who catches your eye during the interview process, but just didn’t quite make the cut. Follow up with them after the interview and keep in touch in the coming months to find out how they are and what they’re up to. You never know when another position may open up in your company that they may be better suited for (see point #2 about networking and making connections).

Onboarding Starts Immediately

Recruiting is only half the battle. Once you’ve brought someone into the fold, your next job is to keep them there. Employee turnover is inconvenient and costly. To combat this, it’s important to integrate your new recruit into your existing company culture quickly and thoroughly. In reality, the first stages of the onboarding process should begin during the interview process, and continue on seamlessly from there. Make them fit in and feel welcome and help them understand their role on your team, and your new recruit will be more likely to become a faithful long term employee.

Recruiting executive level employees isn’t an easy process. It’s important that it be done well, and you can’t cut corners—otherwise you risk missing out on that perfect candidate. But if you know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for, you can greatly increase your chances of finding someone who can benefit your company for years to come.

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