Power of the Executive Search: The Ins and Outs of Executive Recruiting

Executive-level professionals are a different breed. Their out-of-the-box thinking, decision-making capabilities, as well as their ability to steer a company’s ship during the thick and thin of the economy make them the most valuable resource. As such, recruiting executives is not a process that follows conventional standards.

You won’t find executive professionals by simply posting an ad. Instead, you need to attract them. And like it or not, you probably need them more than they do. This is where you tap into the power of executive recruiting.

Components of Executive Recruiting

Bringing aboard an executive-level professional to your organization requires a multi-tiered approach containing the following components:

Define the Position and Requirements

What do you want your new executive to accomplish? Despite how simple this question seems, a simple “to help us grow the organization” is too vague. Here are some factors you should consider:

  1. What is the nature of executive work?
  2. The current standing of your organization.
  3. Challenges your organization is facing.
  4. The strategic direction that you want to take your organization.

Researchers cite there are seven basic performance imperatives to look for:

  1. Cognitive: How quickly can the executive understand the ecosystem?
  2. Social: How quickly and strongly can the executive maintain relationships with internal and external stakeholders of the organization?
  3. Personal: What are the personal attributes of the executive that your firm can leverage?
  4. Political: What is the political standing of the executive, and how can it impact the organization?
  5. Financial: Can the executive alleviate your current financial burdens?
  6. Technological: Can the executive leverage the latest technology to help your firm reach its goal?
  7. Staffing: Does the executive possess the ability to direct the staff toward the organization’s goals?

You need to define the roles and requirements of the executive position from these factors.

Specifying the attributes of the ideal candidate

The second step specifies the attributes of the executive that meet the requirements of the tasks you’ve defined in the previous step. Unfortunately, organizations tend to focus on qualities they already possess and not align them with the current business goals.

Therefore, it’s time to find a new kind of leader that has three central executive skills:

  1. Absorptive Capacity: The ability to observe, recognize, acknowledge, and absorb new information.
  2. Change Capacity: The ability to re-strategize depending upon the organization’s internal factors and the dynamic external conditions.
  3. The Wisdom to Manage: The ability to understand the change in the environment and social relationships and take the right action at the right moment.

An executive with these three attributes will make your organization “future-ready,” helping you reach your goals faster.

Recruiting potential applicants

Now comes the task of recruiting potential applicants: selecting a list of candidates whose attributes match your requirements to the closest degree.

  1. Long Lists: Spend the first week or two searching for desired candidates by creating a long list. Peruse your current professional network, the internal database of your company, and utilize LinkedIn.
  2. Initial Outreach: Your executive recruitment team will reach out to the candidate via phone, email, or LinkedIn.
  3. Screening Candidates by Phone: The team will filter the list based on experience, level of interest in the role, and compensation.
  4. Initial interviews: A quarter to half of the candidates screened by phone will agree to a formal interview.
  5. Shortlists: A shortlist or third list will be created based on your findings of candidates’ performances in the formal interview.
  6. Company Interview: For an executive-level position, multiple rounds of interviews will be necessary.
  7. Offers: After selecting the candidate, reach out to your recruitment team to ensure your proposal matches your selection’s expectations.
Assessment of Candidates

Throughout the recruitment process, you must keep in mind the specifics that form the basis of your assessment strategy. There are three broader categories of assessment strategies:

  1. Strategies provide a peek into how the candidate will lead after entering your organization. They include:
    1. Cognitive ability test
    2. Personality inventories
    3. Leadership potential inventories
  2. Strategies involving asking a candidate about past leadership behavior.
    a) Resumes
    b) Biographical data
    c) Career achievement records
  3. Strategies to demonstrate leadership skills, which generally include testing the candidate in a simulated environment.
The Selection Process

Despite following the above process to a T, companies who take it upon themselves to make the final decision do not take a systematic approach. They rely on instinct, hoping they make the right choice.

Here are effective practices that any organization must follow when choosing the right candidate:

  1. Not relying on one option to review a candidate: Searching for an executive means you’re in search of a leader. Therefore, you can’t put all your efforts into a single test and must take multiple approaches.
  2. Focusing on strong and proven techniques: From work samples to cognitive ability tests to biographical data to multi-rater feedback, none of the methods must be off your table.
  3. Say no to unreliable techniques: Resume scanning, unstructured interviews, and relying on references haven’t always proven fruitful for any organization. These archaic methods don’t provide reliable information about your candidates.
Conclusion

The power of an executive search lies in taking a multi-pronged approach to hiring. Defining roles, specifying the attributes that fit those roles, and then focusing on the recruitment procedure is the way to go. Remember that conventional standards don’t apply here. You need to look deeper and look from various perspectives to assess the candidates who are fit to play an executive role in your company.

Finding such a candidate is not an easy task. The time and resources it takes will divert your attention away from your organization. Best to consult an expert. At ALIGN, we find professionals that meet your organization’s specifications. From engineering to manufacturing to accounting to technology to healthcare. We do the heavy lifting of finding the right candidates for you.

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