Finding the right employees is important, but the stakes are raised even higher when hiring executives. The amount of time that must be spent on the hiring process and the caliber of sought-after recruits are two of the major differences, both of which make executive recruitment a tall order at most firms.

To recruit an executive, a business must start by sifting through the job market looking for the right talent. Contacting candidates, pre-screening them and scheduling interviews takes time, and then there’s onboarding to consider. But the effort is often worth the investment. Once ramped up, new executives have the potential to become valuable leaders at the companies where they have chosen to hang their nameplates.

In order to reach that final result, businesses should consider using the following six tips to organize, plan and conduct executive hiring.

  1. Pre-Screen With a Purpose.

The better you pre-screen your candidates, the easier the process will become afterward. Fair warning: Pre-screening can be laborious. After creating a compelling job descriptionthat will draw the attention of your ideal candidate, the next step is to begin posting the vacancy on relevant job boards and scanning through applicant résumés.

A contract may indeed be a contract, but an executive is not necessarily an executive. In other words, not all who candidates who have shared the title in the past are equal.

To make the most of pre-screening an executive candidate, consider elements beyond job-related experience and educational requirements and ask yourself what key personal attributes are most important to the role at the organization in question.

  1. Consider the Culture.

Oftentimes, that nagging feeling that an executive candidate isn’t good enough to hire boils down to company culture. Business should list the attributes of their ideal executive, one who suits the company’s culture, then brainstorm open-ended questions designed to reveal whether the candidate is a match.

Once a good fit is found, check with a candidate’s professional references to confirm your conclusions. Get in touch with people who are thoroughly familiar with a candidate’s personality, capabilities and accomplishments. Request specific examples of professional achievement as well as personal anecdotes that illustrate the candidate’s working style.

  1. Expand Your Search.

Advertising an open position online is an important step — certainly not one to sneeze at. Lighting up the job boards involves more than just posting a bulleted list of duties, however. The sheer number of boards serving different industries mean businesses can implement a job posting strategy, advertising on relevant boards with postings tailored to attract the perfect candidate before conducting targeted recruitment campaigns of their own.

Let’s take an example: Say a business has tasked its recruiters with finding a good mechanical engineer. They’ve already posted the opening on the usual job boards, but now what? Do they simply sit on their laurels and wait for resumes to start trickling in, or do they make further efforts to locate top candidates?

A good way for them to start would be to contact the candidate industry’s professional organizations — in this case the local engineering societies of which relevant job candidates should already be members.

Keep things confidential. Don’t alienate executive candidates by informing outside parties of candidates’ applications, especially if they are currently directors or C-level job seekersworking at other companies.

  1. Look for a Track Record of Leadership.

A new executive will set the standard for all those under his authority, and departmental goals should align from top to bottom.

Vet candidates for their experience — not just in terms of years on the job but in real accomplishments. Ask for work portfolios that speak to past successes. What big decisions have candidates made? What initiatives did they spearhead?

Create interview questions that address the following concerns:

  • How do they make decisions, and what is their track record concerning those decisions?
  • How do they perform in groups of varied experience? Are they a leader or follower?
  • How accessible is their thinking? How easy will it be for coworkers to understand how they think, reason and prioritize?
  • What kind of work ethic will they bring to the company? What motivates them?
  • What are their passions? Do they love what they do?
  • What is their behavior like towards peers, subordinates and customers?
  1. Prepare for Onboarding.

Once the best candidates are hired and ready for their first days on the job, setting them up to succeed becomes crucial. Too many executives crash and burn due to a lack of effective onboarding. Drafting an action plan for new hires is no less essential when adding an executive to the staff. Be sure to have new executives lead team-building exercises to help them establish leadership roles and expose them to existing personnel.

Even setting new hires up for success is no guarantee they will achieve it, however. When hiring an executive, don’t neglect to create a succession plan in case he is bad fit or decides to leave.

  1. Keep Your Head Held High

Finally, stay positive during the search. Focus on your company’s accomplishments and vision for the future. This will not only attract the talent who share your goals, but it will also keep you enthusiastic from your very first candidate meeting until hiring the one who will help to lead your business into the future.

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