Leadership Recruitment: Finding the Right CEO for Your Company’s Digital Transformation

March 22, 2023

Recruiting for the most junior of roles can be a headache of its own. Recruiting for C- level executives is far more complicated and can be a stressfully competitive task.

Executives are generally all of the roles at the top of the hierarchy within the company, all those positions that begin with the word “chief” in the title. This includes the Chief executive officers (CEO), Chief information officer (CIO), Chief operations officer (COO) Chief technology officer (CTO), Chief financial officer (CFO), etc.

These roles are in a leadership position and their influence on whichever department or function that they lead is company-wide and mission-critical. There’s very little margin for error when hiring a CEO, as their every move has to be the right one for the business.

Executives & competition

There’s a blend of entrepreneurial and management capabilities to these roles. They require professionals with a certain affinity for business development, a talent for seeing the bigger picture, and a dedication to producing quality results.

Experience at this level is invaluable, and the success that a CEO had in a previous position speaks volumes of their ability to grow a business. As such, available candidates at this particular level are a rare sight.

Generally speaking, successful CEOs are well-established within their company and often remain there for a long time. Not only that, but these professionals are well aware of their role & industry value, and know that they can pick and choose where and how they work.

This makes recruitment at the executive level a very competitive task. However, a significant portion of senior candidates has expressed that they want to be ‘found’ or ‘approached’ by headhunters for relevant vacancies. While this is no expression of a desire to leave their current position, it suggests that candidates at this level are open to relevant opportunities. This is where the competitive nature is most seen.

How to successfully recruit senior executives?

Successfully recruiting the best candidates for senior executive roles is no picnic and requires a lot more than the average recruitment process. There are certain aspects of an executive’s responsibilities that the recruiter should know and be capable of recognizing.

First, their track record is very important. What they have achieved over the course of their career is the initial view of what they can accomplish. Unlike a junior IT role, there’s more to the placement than checking off a few boxes in terms of skills. Executives need to be visionaries, leaders, entrepreneurs, and capable managers.

It’s almost as though you’re recruiting several roles in one.

1- The role, the industry, the company

There’s a lot of homework to recruiting executives, which mainly pertains to understanding the role in that specific industry, and what constitutes landmarks for success. The industry itself sets the stage for executive roles and the correlation between the two must include both experience and deep-rooted knowledge.

It’s important to create a candidate persona, a detailed idea of what your executive candidates should be like and be capable of achieving. Setting these requirements down can help you thin the herd and focus on the right executive candidates for your company, rather than the superstars that wouldn’t be a perfect fit. We always recommend companies on the cusp of filling out their roster to always consider talent with digital experience and capabilities, regardless of the role.

2- Networking & internal hiring

Locating senior candidates for executive roles isn’t very difficult. Their social media profiles such as LinkedIn are among the most visited and followed. Leveraging these social platforms along with internal team referrals and personal connections are a good way to get recruitment in motion.

Another possibility that is often overlooked is looking to the existing team for potential. Sometimes, various members at various levels of your organization could be a perfect fit for an executive position. Include your current and previous employees, board members. managers, and stakeholders in the pool of possible hires. An advantage that they have here, is their familiarity with the business and successful integration into the company culture.

3- Personalized approach

If this were actionable for all roles at all levels, recruitment would be an entirely different affair. However, given the time and effort that would go into that, it’s only possible to strictly personalize the approach on a small scale.

Moreover, the importance of making the right decision in executive hiring, makes it necessary to personalize your outreach and approach to each candidate.

Building connections with these candidates is the right way to go. Your communications need to be personal and professional. Recruiters need to display the company’s commitment to hiring the right people. It’s agreed that the candidate needs to be the sole focus of the conversation, but it’s best to not throw your pitch at them right away, but simply attempt to get to know them better. To help you during the interview, we've put together a complete guide on how to interview a CEO. Don't forget to check it out!

4- Above and beyond

Given the high demand for these candidates, it’s best to go above and beyond in demonstrating just how much you’d like to get to know them and hire them. Differentiating yourself from competitors can be as simple as arranging a face to face meeting with your current company leadership, or discussing various industry matters.

Our process at JB Hired is strictly focused on senior & digital talent around the world. This approach, as vertical as it is, has often led us down the executive recruitment path. Over time, we’ve come to see that standing out from the competition can make or break a long term recruitment operation.

Senior candidates are much more aware of their industry, their value, and the choices that they can make. In order to successfully hire the right executives for the job, a personalized competitive approach is the way to go.

In case you’re looking for qualified talent to help you on this aspect, get in touch with JB Hired and source the talent your digital transformation needs!