Sarah Thomas

Recruiting an executive is a different process than recruiting for most roles at your company. Executives are the highest positions at your company, and therefore have the most risk during the hiring process. Naviga states that the failure rate for executives is between 30-40% after 18 months. To mitigate this risk, you need to hire the right person. While many companies choose to outsource this process, you can recruit an executive in-house if you know the secrets to recruit top executives.

Assemble a Team

The first secret to recruiting top executives is to assemble a team within your organization. In an article at FirstRound, recruiter Jennifer Rettig recommends creating a team of current leaders, founders, and executives to assist in the hiring process. This team may also include anyone with ties to your company that isn’t directly involved in the day-to-day. Think board members, advisors, and other stakeholders outside of your organization.

Your team needs to act as a cohesive unit during the entire recruitment and interview process, with one person acting as the point of contact for the candidates. Select one person to run the team (likely the HR manager or hiring manager) to keep everything running smoothly.


Once your team is assembled, ensure that everyone is on board with the details of the position that must be filled. Determine the exact role that your company requires so that you can write the job description using the correct terms and with the correct title so that you attract the right talent. LinkedIn recommends getting your hiring team’s opinions regarding the current needs and future growth of the company.

You must also fully research the compensation required for the position. Determine what will be allowed by the budget internally and what is competitive within the market for similar positions.

Networking is a Secret to Recruiting Top Executives

One of the best secrets to recruiting top executives is networking. Most executives aren’t reading through job boards to find their next position. Instead, they’re finding the next step in their career through referrals and their personal network. To find someone that fits with your company, you’ll need to utilize referrals from current employees, connections from your hiring team, and social media connections (such as LinkedIn) to find the top talent.

TalentLyft suggests reaching out to board members, alumni associations, any foundations or charities associated with your company, advisors, and other stakeholders and asking if they know of anyone personally that would fit the position that you’re looking to fill. Think beyond poaching from competitors. Brainstorm companies with a growth trajectory you’d like to emulate and find candidates who have worked for those organizations.

Personalize the Process

While the general hiring process is geared towards processing a large number of candidates quickly and efficiently, recruiting executives is a slower process that is labor-intensive. Take time to personalize the process every step of the way.

Begin the first point of contact with the help of your referral or network. Do so discreetly so as not to disrupt any current position for your potential candidate.  Spend time getting to know the candidate outside of normal interviews. Try a dinner spent with the hiring team, an outing with leadership, or a team-building event. LinkedIn highlights the need for high-touch contact with executive candidates and a personalized, thoughtful approach during the recruitment process. Keep in mind that your intention is never to spam or overwhelm the candidate.

Cross-Check the Culture Fit

Having the right culture fit is imperative for executives because they lead the way. Culture is non-negotiable. While many candidates may have the skill set required for the job, you need the candidate who best fits the company’s culture and future goals.

How do you determine if the candidate is the right culture fit? Spend an adequate amount of time getting to really know them and what drives them. Understand the candidate deeply by asking them to take our assessment, reviewing their PIC Report, and then using our Team Room to see how they mesh with your existing team.

Take Your Time

Executive recruiting is a longer process than typical recruitment. Expect the average position to take anywhere from 4-8 months. Be patient during the process. Your hard work will pay off with an executive that fits within your company and is ready to lead you into the future.


One Comment

Leave a Reply