How to Attract Senior-Level Candidates

by Kelley Small, Advisor, Standish Executive Search  —

Where do most people go to learn more about a company with which they’ll potentially do business, or with which they will consider applying for a position?

For many companies, it’s the ubiquitous “About Us” tab on their websites, where users hope to get a sense of what the organization is all about and see what makes it stand out.

If you are that company and you are looking to hire a senior member of your team, are you building the “About Us” messaging into your position description? If not, you may want to consider an update.

While necessary, position descriptions can be mundane and of limited value, featuring lists of the required tasks and skill sets in bulleted lists. These can get boiled down when using web services to recruit for entry- and early-career-level positions. It’s a common resource that is easy but often equates to hauling in fish through a dragnet and hoping some catches are worth keeping.

Higher-level hires, however, need an extra boost to help ensure that top candidates align with the corporate leadership style that is so key to attracting and retaining the right talent.

As a result, online services that cater to early-career positions, and don’t facilitate the posting of substantive content about your business and culture, might not be the most appropriate resources.

Capturing your culture and personality in a position description is critical for recruiting not only higher-level positions, but also, frankly, all positions. It will lead to productive searches that are more likely to yield candidates that are both accomplished and a good fit. Conversely, a task-laden description that lacks personality might yield a large pool, but ultimately not result in a hire because – at the end – the finalists were “not a good fit.”

As a company that is hiring top talent, your position description needs to sell candidates on the company and the position, while attracting individuals that are also a good fit.

When conducting a focused search through your contacts, or with a search firm for senior-level talent, make it easy for the prospective candidate to get all the pertinent information in one place. Lead with an overview of the business and the culture: is it fast-paced, collaborative, serious, funky, data-driven, entrepreneurial, employee-owned, rapidly growing, casual…?

Think of your company’s mission and goals and tie that into the description:
– What is the organization’s direction?
– Are you expanding nationally or internationally?
– Did you recently rebrand?
– Are you introducing new products and services?
– How does this position play into a growth strategy?

Then consider the keywords that best define your company and align with what you are looking for in a person filling a strategic position.

Consider the working environment as well and capture that in your introduction. Are you in a renovated mill or a modern high-rise? Is the space open with few offices? Some people can thrive in an open environment and others cannot. Don’t surprise someone at a director-level role that they may be in an unworkable office workspace rather than a private office. Depending on their style, this may be a game-stopper for them. From the very beginning, be open and clear.

Attracting top-level prospects, who are initially a good fit, will create a much better, faster and more effective search process. Make sure the job title captures the essence of the role you are hoping to fill and aligns with the level of responsibility associated with it. Words in the title matter and should be carefully thought through.

Once you include an engaging “About Us” section and a well-thought-out title, use an easy-to-read, digestible format to go through the job responsibilities, qualifications and expectations. A substantive bulleted format is often easier to digest than paragraphs.

Avoid minutia as well: someone at this level will not need to know everything they may do between Monday morning and Friday afternoon in a position description.

Hiring the right people can be immensely satisfying and rewarding but it is not easy.

Many companies may not have the internal resources to completely define what staffing gaps they have, how they align to a possible position, and how that position description should read.

In a gig economy, as more and more services are outsourced, there are some great options for human resources and executive search services to help in these areas. An integral part of the engagement is tying-in the needs analysis with the development of the position description.

Truth be told – searches are a lot of work and they become harder as you look to fill more senior-level positions with someone who is the right fit.

There are some clear and core steps you can take to increase the likelihood of a great hire that the team can celebrate.

Kelley Small is an Advisor to Standish Executive Search, which works with organizations to secure the right leaders for accelerated growth, change and succession. www.standishsearch.com