Depending on how long your company has been in business, you might have plenty of experience recruiting new employees as positions become available. Often, your recruitment strategy for different roles looks more or less the same.
However, when it comes to recruiting your next CEO, your process is (or at least should be) a little bit different. The right CEO can lead your business toward unprecedented growth, but the wrong one can derail your entire company.
When you fully grasp the differences between hiring a CEO and hiring for other positions, you’ll be able to formulate a strategy for hiring your company’s next leader.
When you’re hiring for lower-level roles, it’s generally acceptable for a single person to make the selection.
However, because your choice of CEO has such a great impact on the rest of the company, it’s a good idea to assemble a diverse group of people to make the choice.
Consider including the following people in the group:
Before you start actively recruiting, sit down with the rest of the committee and decide what you’re looking for in a candidate. That way, you’ll all be on the same page when it’s time to shortlist the top candidates and eventually pick the best one.
Depending on the size of your company and the existing responsibilities of everyone involved, you might determine that you simply don’t have the time and/or resources to devote to a hiring committee. In that case, you might find it worthwhile to partner with an executive search firm. These firms are dedicated to finding executive talent that meets your company’s needs.
Working with an executive search firm can be helpful if you’re looking to hire a CEO in a very short amount of time. Because these firms have pre-existing professional networks, they can often find suitable candidates in half the time it takes a business to do so.
Before you start your search, it’s also important to do some research and decision-making about the role. Consider the following:
Make sure to take your time with this step. Once you’ve done the necessary research, sit down with the rest of the committee and create a recruiting strategy. Being prepared with answers will make things go much more smoothly.
When most people imagine recruiting for a job, they think of creating listings and posting them on job boards. That can be part of it, but in many cases, your ideal CEO is already working in the industry.
You can reach out to promising candidates directly, but what if you don’t know who to recruit? In this case, you can connect with potential CEOs through indirect networking.
For online networking, being active on LinkedIn is a great place to start. This platform makes it easy to connect with other people in your industry. Don’t immediately approach other people with the intent of finding a CEO candidate. When you form meaningful connections, you might find that these relationships help you connect with your future CEO.
In-person networking is also a worthy pursuit. If your industry has frequent conferences or trade shows, these can be a great way to make professional connections.
Chances are good that if you’re targeting a specific individual to be your CEO, other businesses are, too. Competition might be lower if you approach someone who isn’t actively looking for a job. But in either case, the candidate is likely to turn you down if the compensation you’re offering isn’t comparable to what other companies offer.
When creating your compensation package, thoroughly investigate the base salary and other benefits that most similar companies offer their CEOs. Make sure you’re offering compensation that’s market rate or a little above.
However, because there’s so much competition for talented CEOs, it’s a good idea to put forward compensation above and beyond what other companies offer. That way, if your top candidate gets multiple offers, they might be more inclined to choose you.
Each candidate’s resume is important, but there’s so much more to consider than how they look on paper. There are three critical angles to assess: leadership style, culture fit, and potential for growth.
Some teams respond better to certain leadership styles than others. During the screening process, get a clear idea of every candidate’s style of leadership. Does it work with your team? For instance, if your company values collaborative approaches, a CEO who is used to unilaterally making decisions might not be a great fit.
Your company culture is an important part of its identity. Bringing in a CEO who clashes with the existing culture is likely to be a highly disruptive change. On the other hand, a CEO who meshes with your company culture might be able to take it to greater heights.
You don’t want to hire a CEO whose only goal is to maintain the status quo. A motivated and competent leader will have detailed, achievable short-term and long-term plans for your business.
If it takes a long time to find your CEO, that doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Because the process is so drawn out and the requirements are so stringent, it’s not unusual for a CEO search to take several months to a year. That might seem like an unduly long amount of time, but it’s well worth it — choosing your CEO is arguably the most important hiring decision you’ll ever make.
Our hands-on CEO recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets over a billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and include vice president, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.
Through our proven retained executive search process, we find, vet, and deliver the top 1% of candidates for positions across the C-suite. Our process works for all industries, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, real estate, financial services, private equity, and more.
Learn how we deliver top talent, no matter the need, with our industry-leading research and resources. Discover the strategy behind so many glowing Cowen Partners’ reviews — and that’s made us a top retained executive search firm in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and beyond.