Written by: Adam Lloyd
Sometimes common sense and simple courtesies outweigh, or at least are just as important as the latest technological advancements and data. Just ask senior executives being recruited for leadership seats. I have, this is what they tell me.
Be Concise and Informative Up-Front
Years ago, when being recruited by multiple banking institutions, it was the one she had never heard of that Susan Blackburn, currently a President and COO with Bank of America, ended up signing with. Why? Because as Susan explained, it started on the front-end of the process and initial call where she received highly informative insight to the direction of the organization and an honest portrayal of how the role would align. There were no lingering questions, as it was a non-pressuring and more informative approach. She wasn’t jumping through process hoops or selling herself, she was receiving valuable decision-making information.
A Genuine Brand and Approach is More Important than a Spectacle
If your recruiting approach and presentation upon meetings with top executives is not genuine to your company’s current brand and culture (not the one you hope it to be), forget it, you will not be able to sustain what your attempting to portray. It’s far better to present your best self as an organization than to create a one or two day façade. Even if hired under this scenario, executives won’t stick around long if they have a realization that does not match the show that was “put on” for them during the courting process.
This concept comes from an engineering chief executive I worked with that was led on to believe a business unit was operating a lot more fluidly than was the case. He uncovered this in his own due-diligence, however, may have joined the company if they were more transparent about the overall health of the business. As it turns out, he thrives in turnarounds.
There are Enticing Elements Outside of Compensation to Woo Them
Now, considering the point above, if your corporate image is not where you want it to be today, use that to present an opportunity to help sell the idea of the organization needing a change agent. Less than ideal situations can be leveraged as opportunities for those that like to transform and be part of a creative movement. It is far better than trying to disguise or mislead the real state of the organization. Many top leaders look for these chances in their careers to put a stamp on a creative outlet they have been harnessing. Whether it’s legacy building or for creative stimulation, offering new challenges rather than just a competitive compensation package is a great way to provide an experience that speaks to depth in your company.
I recall a very talented CMO, exploring multiple attractive compensation offers, but she took a lower-end package because of the flexibility the company provided her to be a mom. She believed in the moral standards of the company, and that exceeded a high price tag. She suggests creating an experience around the company’s best attributes and offerings… which are not always monetary.
Yes, Technology is Important, but Not for the Sake of Internal Process and Records
Often when companies think of being current with technology, it is to suit their own needs. The reality is, while digital expectations are high amongst executives, it’s not the careers site or application process that leaders are interested in. What they are truly looking for is ease of use when researching organizations and gathering decision-making information. Make sure news and recent developments are current and easily accessible, limiting an executive candidate’s time researching your company. This will be highly valuable to them and recognized as a positive component to the process.
At senior leadership levels, the importance of the careers site is overcome by corporate news, industry relevant data and key team members. So many executives I work with are constantly traveling and when being presented with a new opportunity to consider while on the road, they need quick access to current information. Reviewing strong mobile sites and social pages which are built up to provide them with news and a more humanized feel of the organization will enable them to form deeper and more immediate connections with those companies.
Hello, Is it Me Your Looking For?
If you’re looking to attract highly passive leaders, an experience built on personalization will get their attention. This should go for all executive candidates. Believe me, they notice when the time has been put in to understanding, not only their professional and technical experience, but who they are as a person. If the process feels mass produced and mundane, it’s not going to go over very well. You wouldn’t expect a CEO to step in with the same blueprint plan used before and assume it will hold the answers to current objectives? So don’t assume one process fits all. In fact, companies that are doing a great job of personalization are digging back far, to high school and college years to learn about their talent prospect’s interests.
Nike customizes shoes in some instances, based upon this type of research they gather on long-term prospective executive talent. Research and talent mapping are not only being utilized more, but are now exercises that have significantly developed in their capabilities as digital and social developments occur. Use it as an advantage and invest the time here, everyone likes to be noticed once in a while.
As competition for top executives only increases, remember these pieces of advice directly from them.