Hiring an executive is expensive. But the leadership impact of C-suite positions will make or break a company’s success. That’s why finding, interviewing, and hiring the right top-level candidate—the first time—is so important.
Over my 14 years as an executive recruiter and business owner, I’ve had my share of wins, and my share of slip-ups. I’ve seen the hiring process from the perspectives of the recruiter, the employer, and the candidate, and have learned countless lessons from each of them. Below, I’ve boiled down over a decade’s worth of experience to create a three part series on Hiring Smarter, Newly Hired Executives, and Key Beliefs as a Business Owner.
3 Ways to Hire Smarter:
Go with your gut.
In business, we are often trained to base decisions on facts. So you’ll find a lot of conflicting opinions about whether or not to rely on a gut feeling. My position is that if your gut is talking to you, take time to listen. Chances are, you’ve finely honed your gut instinct over years of hiring—even if you don’t realize it.
Of course, you should still use thoughtful assessment and qualitative and quantitative reasoning when vetting a candidate. If someone displays red flags, don’t let your feelings talk you out of it. But at the same time, don’t overcomplicate the process, and don’t over analyze every little thing. When you’re making a difficult hiring decision, your gut instinct can steer you in the right direction.
Don’t be cheap – Never offer a candidate less than their current salary.
This is a very big “no.” Recruiters often work with executives who are already employed—and even happy at their organization. It’s the recruiter’s job to entice them to a new opportunity, and the prospect of a lower salary is certainly not enticing.
Yes, you may encounter candidates where salary is not their top priority, but they are few and far between. Most top-level executives (and people in general) want to move into a position that pays more. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and ask yourself: “Would I accept that offer?”
Pass early and often on candidates who are too expensive.
Move away from a candidate if their current salary, or salary demands, are well beyond your range. As a candidate, you’d feel strung along if you go through an interview—or even multiple interviews—only to be told “You’re too expensive.” As a recruiter or hiring manager, that’s not going to reflect well on you.
When you use third-party recruiters, you should already know whether or not a candidate’s salary expectations are compatible with what you’re offering. If it’s not, don’t waste their time—or yours.
3 Key Tips for Newly Hired Executives:
Before you make changes, learn the culture.
It’s normal to bring your ideas and cognitive biases with you to a new organization. But don’t let those preconceived notions have an outsized—and possible negative—effect on your efforts. Any new initiatives will have the greatest positive impact if you tailor them to your new reality, not your assumptions.
When you join an organization, take a step back and observe with fresh eyes. Get curious. Ask questions. Be a sponge, absorbing everything you can about the company culture, values, and people.
Create a habit of gratitude.
Consciously practicing gratitude may not be a priority, but it should be. It will make you a better leader—and even a better person. Practicing gratitude can also have an impact on your physical and mental health, and improve your social interactions, according to researchers.
Practicing gratitude helps you focus on your successes, small and large. But it also prevents those successes from going to your head. Gratitude keeps your ego in check. When you cultivate an attitude of gratitude, it attracts people to you, which is so important when it comes to attracting and keeping top talent at your organization.
You don’t have to play hardball.
When you negotiate, you’re looking to strike a balance between each party’s needs. So if one person is “winning,” you’re both losing. Keep your new employer happy when negotiating and never draw any lines in the sand or make demands. Playing hardball can get you what you want in the short term, but what about after? Your negotiating partner will likely be resentful, causing problems in the long term.
Negotiate nicely, and you’re more likely to get what you want, plus everyone leaves the table happy. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to be a pushover. You can stay firm in your asks, and still produce an outcome that works for both parties—plus the potential for a lasting relationship.
3 Key Beliefs as a Business Owner:
No Pain, No Gain
Owning a business is not easy, even for the most experienced entrepreneur. In fact, becoming an entrepreneur requires a full-on lifestyle change. There will be plenty of ups and downs—downs are just something you’ll have to deal with, and they will help you grow. It’s those “failures” that often teach the best lessons. Keep your eyes on the long-term payoff to get you through the hard times. Business ownership can be extremely rewarding if you can keep that perspective.
Owning a business and practicing your craft are very different things.
We are often urged to “do what you love.” That’s well-meaning advice, but it leaves out some tough truths. Once you create a business out of your passion, you’ll have less time to practice that passion. Why? You’re now keeping a business afloat, and responsible for all the behind the scenes tasks that make a successful business possible. For some people, that can be a real disincentive.
Business owners must wear many hats, even if they don’t “fit.” If you can’t visualize yourself doing things like bookkeeping, human resources, inventory, marketing, customer service, and more, reconsider becoming a business owner.
Have no regrets.
When you start a business, you face great odds. But if you can overcome those odds, owning a business has tremendous benefits that make everything worth it. Sure, you may make a bad hire, be caught off-guard on important issues, or make other mistakes—we all do. The important thing is that you learn from them, and then move on.
Harboring regret can’t change the past, but it will complicate your future. After 14 years in business, and hopefully many more to come, I would not change a thing!
Cornerstone Executive Search is a Kansas City based talent acquisition firm that helps great companies recruit great people. If we can help you with a specific recruiting need, please book a call with me HERE. For those in your network who may benefit from connecting with us, please share this post.