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Five Key Observations in Positioning A C-Suite Search for Success

What’s working for retail brands and why?

The obvious measure of a successful search is hiring an exceptional candidate who makes a meaningful contribution to a company’s performance, culture and prospects. Having been involved in hundreds of C-level searches, I have learned that HOW a company and its external search partner prepare and conduct a search is critical to landing that exceptional executive. These are five “best practices” common in successful searches:

1.   HIRING FOR THE FUTURE

A company’s organizational structure and talent objectives should reflect its long range strategy. Companies need to look ahead when hiring, anticipate where the business is going, and hire for the future. Both the company and search partner should be able to articulate what they are solving for and what the value-add will be in bringing in this new executive. Is the company looking for a specific skill set or experience to complement the current management team? Is the company undergoing a transformation requiring new senior leadership competencies? Defining future needs and identifying the desired outcomes from this role will help bring focus and clarity to the search.

2.   ALIGNING ON THE TARGET CANDIDATE PROFILE

As part of a successful search, a company’s stakeholders and executive management team must be aligned around the competencies, background, and attributes they are looking for in this new leader. It is critical to prioritize what competencies and qualities are “Must-Haves” versus “Nice-to-Haves” (those with more flexibility). The most successful searches build and use a scorecard based on the aligned priorities that formalizes the evaluation of each candidate, mitigating purely objective candidate assessments.

3.   INVESTING IN “THE PROCESS”

Integral to any effective search is establishing up-front the key activities, milestones and expected time investment from both a company and its search partner. While the search firm should lead and drive the overall process, a successful search requires a committed partner. The search should have a tight timeline with firm dates blocked out for candidate interviews. A regular cadence of communication between the partners is also key for efficient and timely search management, feedback for and from candidates, and next steps.

4.   BUILDING A TRUE PARTNERSHIP WITH YOUR SEARCH FIRM

As an extension of your brand, a search partner must be a trusted part of your team. In order to get the most out of a search, a company needs to share everything about the state of its business, what the culture is like, opportunities as well as challenges. Recruiters are constantly speaking to potential candidates, setting expectations and advocating for your company. They need to understand the big picture in order to be the best brand ambassadors when out in the marketplace. Both company and search partner should speak in “one voice” to candidates.

5.   SELLING EVERY CANDIDATE

A recruiters’ job is to identify and engage executives who most closely align with the priorities established for experience, competencies and attributes. The reality is most candidates are passive, meaning they aren’t actively looking for a new role and often quite happy where they are.  A talented recruiter can give candidates enough reason to be “open to listen” to your opportunity, but only the executives within a company can truly sell the candidate on why this role is compelling enough to make a change.

While every search is different and every client is unique, these five “best practices” will ensure a smooth and likely successful process. Whether hiring for a Chief Officer, or those reporting up to the C-Suite - transparency, alignment and results are the top priorities at Herbert Mines Associates.

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