Put your best foot forward in attracting executive-level talent
Photo courtesy AES
Identifying and attracting competent professionals for crucial positions is always challenging for business owners, and seeking executive level talent can be an even more daunting mountain to climb. With the local and national economy in a climate of flux, many companies are seeing increased staff turnover and less longevity from their staff, and senior leadership is no exception. With current job market trends showing no indications that people are again remaining with employers for the long haul, we can expect to see more turnover up through executive and senior levels. This trend means that business owners need to be prepared with a strategy to draw the interest of top-level talent before being caught off guard and scrambling to fill the gap left by a departing leader. With every company’s unique business needs, ideally your strategy will be suited to your goals, mission, and vision; however, there are some basic strategic elements in appealing to executive-level candidates which can be included for many unique approaches.
Confidentiality Is Critical
Accomplished, successful executive-level talent will almost certainly require discretion and agreements for provision of confidentiality during the recruitment process. These senior leaders will undoubtedly have broad professional networks established within their industries, and while they may be considering a new opportunity for all the right reasons, gossip can wreak irreparable damage both within their industry and at their current work place. In a state such as Alaska, this need is doubly emphasized by our small-town connections. Even your fellow fisherman in Carhartts and XtraTufs may be a C-suite executive who knows someone who knows someone. If it becomes known to the wrong party that the talent you are targeting is considering new opportunities, it may prove detrimental to your candidate’s career. Confidentiality will often make or break a candidate’s interest in pursuing a new opportunity, so address your ability to offer total discretion at the very beginning of the recruitment process—in your job postings or announcements and in your first conversation with the candidate.
Showcase Meaningful Growth Opportunities
Once a candidate has reached the senior leadership level in their career, some companies do not consider the need for meaningful growth to retain and attract future executive candidates. A generous compensation package may not be enough to appeal the high-quality executive talent your business needs. While there may not be the potential for upward mobility to entice an executive level candidate, senior leaders often seek value in opportunities to give back. Whether through peer mentorships or community involvement programs, this is a great opportunity to get creative in adding additional value to a position that will draw exceptionally qualified candidates. For some candidates, the potential to become involved with strategic planning and provision of future stewardship to the company is an excellent area in which they may continue their personal and professional growth.
Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Down to Business
Believing that merely posting a job announcement on your company website and local job boards is enough to locate top level is a misstep many employers take. The most successful approach to enticing key senior talent is a proactive approach similar to retained executive recruiters such as AES’ Executive Recruitment division. Lean on social media to network and reach out to passive candidates; make the most of your industry’s local and statewide professional networks—leave no rock unturned. Even if the person with whom you connect is not looking for something new at the time, they may know someone within their industry who might consider your opportunity. This approach certainly takes more time and effort than the “post and pray” recruitment method; you will truly see the level of results increase commensurate with the level of effort and time you are able to commit. This holds true to every part of the recruitment process from crafting a well-written, appealing job announcement to exhausting your LinkedIn networks and contacts.
While these basic elements of attracting executive talent are generally good practices for companies within many industries, it is also important to evaluate the success of your current approach. If you are continually running into a brick wall, step back, regroup, and try a new angle. Even if the approach lands you well outside of your comfort zone, it may be just the unique twist to connect with your ideal executive candidate. Investing this extra time and effort now in your recruitment process will reap significant rewards in the long run by helping you connect with candidates who share your company’s values and will support the mission and goals of your business.
Jillian Caswell is a human resources advocate who strives to serve as a recruitment and HR resource for professionals looking to make a change in their careers and chase their dreams. As she continued to progress her career with Alaska Executive Search through recruiting in the Executive Search and Office Staffing divisions, Caswell rounded out her experience by bringing her HR knowledge and recruitment capabilities to support the company as Operations Director. Her expertise in online recruitment and networking, coupled with her social media savvy, enhances her ability to effectively support the Alaska Executive Search team in connecting candidates with the right job opportunities. Contact her at 907-276-5707 or JillianC@akexec.com.
This article first appeared in the September 2016 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly.