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Companies recruit for talent, whether the company is a big enterprise, medium one, or even small, the hunt for talent is a commonality. More often than not, though, the recruitment process in large organisations is much more vigorous compared to their smaller SMEs. This often includes identifying talent at competitor organisations, using backchannel referencing, screening and selection.

When the vacant position in a company is of more importance, such as a CXO level employee, the recruitment process becomes more complex.

A recent report on talent retention shows that companies offer incentives and opportunities for growth against their top tier positions. Enabling these companies to not only hire the best candidate, but to also retain them (which is key, given the efforts often needed to recruit them).

This article highlights 5 evergreen tips large companies use to hire top executives.

1. Networking

Networking is a business term being used frequently. It requires forming fruitful connections with others in the field. More often than not, large orgs prioritize recruiting talent from within the field, perhaps in a similar role at a competing business. This enables them to employ candidates who have been working in the industry and have credibility on their side.

Take Away:

Growing your network and continually nurturing connections is key for many business reasons, recruitment is certainly no different. Sharing industry news to social channels, attending business, industry, and networking events, and maintaining open communications with others in your field is key.

2. Pinpointing Traits – Position Profile & Soft Skills

Companies recruiting top execs take time to identify not only the skills, qualifications, and experience needed for a role, but also what personality traits are needed.

Whilst most candidates that make interview stage will more than likely have the necessary knowledge and skills to get the job done, not everyone has the leadership traits needed, or is a good match for the company culture (‘culture fit’).

Hence when big companies hire new talent, they incline towards traits considered valuable to the organization.

This can include so-called ‘soft skills’, which often include (but certainly are not limited to):

  • Being a great listener
  • Empathy
  • People-skills (giving criticism constructively)
  • Collaboration

Take Away:

When recruiting top execs, be sure to focus not only on experience and qualifications, but also give a strong priority to culture fit and ‘soft skills’. Experience can be gained, however a bad culture fit can be much harder to remedy.

3. Social Profile & Network.

Top executives make it to the top not only because of their hard work and specialization but because they also have a credible profile.

Big companies hire people with an outstanding personal profile. If two candidates are equally appealing, which has the best social profile and network? Which, of the two, can bring the best connections and network to the table?

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Take Away:

Consider what network the candidate can bring with them and how this might benefit your organisation. All else being equal between two candidates on a shortlist, be sure to assess who can bring the best network with them.

4. Be Discrete

As already mentioned, it’s quite common when recruiting execs, to target those in similar roles already. This can mean approaching your competitors top talent, in the hopes of making them jump-ship.

Such approaches are sensitive and need to be handled carefully, and discretely. 86.9% of executive candidates prefer being contacted through a private email address, and or via online networks (77.9%).

Another option is to use an executive search agency, who are experienced at making approaches with discretion, oftentimes without revealing the organisation looking to ‘poach’ the candidate.

Take Away:

Often the best candidates are already in a similar role, sometimes at a competing company. Use caution and approach such candidates discreetly, engaging an executive search agency to hunt & approach top candidates on your behalf if discretion is considered very important.

5. Planning ahead

Due to the amount of rigour and due diligence needed, hiring a top-level exec takes longer than hiring lower-level employees. Try, where possible, to plan hires, especially at the C-suite level.

Planning can be easier when taking on a new hire, or even at times such as a planned CEO succession. However, when replacing an executive without their knowledge, planning can be more difficult.

Take Away:

The shorter period you have in to recruit an exec, the more important having an established network is. If you find yourself needing to recruit an executive on a very short timescale, again, using a 3rd party recruitment agency can be helpful, due to the size of their networks.

Final Thoughts

Recruiting top-level talent can be challenging. Discretion is needed when approaching a competitor’s staff, and also when replacing an executive in your company who isn’t aware of their impending departure from your organisation.

Growing and nurturing a great network, and where possible, planning any executive hires in advance can be key to hiring the right candidate. Lastly, don’t forget how important culture fit and ‘soft skills’ are in executive roles, especially any roles that involve leadership.

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