You often hear talk of the CEO being an organisation’s number one salesman. As figurehead of the company, they are the most visible, influential, recognisable and most likely to articulately ‘sell the dream’ of their organisation and therefore attract external candidates into the business. In an ever-changing resourcing world where sourcing quality candidates is fiercely competitive, is it time to utilise the CEO’s influence by thinking of them as the chief recruiter as well?

With growth comes the need to attract and retain quality candidates, and often this means looking outside of the organisation. But what if the best candidates weren’t active on the job market? The LinkedIn 2014 Talent Trends Report revealed that while 85% of the global workforce would be open to new career opportunities, only 25% were actively looking, with the remainder candidates considered passive. The CEO’s role in attracting the attention of this passive market is critical. They need to treat every interaction as an opportunity to find their next senior manager, vice-president, executive team member, graduate, and develop a rapport with that person. As this relationship develops, partnering with a third-party to help determine whether the potential recruit is role-fit and culture-fit will benefit the process greatly, and secure business continuity should a key person suddenly leave the business.

The CEO can also be used as an icebreaker. When Bill Gates was still with Microsoft, staff occasionally involved him when they needed to reach out to people with difficult to find skill sets. This approach recognised the sway the CEO has as the catcher of talent by tapping into their ability to sell a compelling case for their business and engage the potential candidate with their vision for the future.

Succession planning 101 is ensuring your organisation has a back-up plan – or a back-up candidate – for all your critical management positions. We hear about building the organisations’ bench strength and developing from within. Equally as important is ensuring there is also a pool of known candidates from outside the organisation who could complement the existing management team while bringing fresh ideas and driving value. I encourage the CEO and their senior management teams to be ready to tackle the challenges of ensuring there remains a talent pool of highly skilled, experienced and culture-fit people ready to progress to key roles.

One CEO we work with makes a point of having coffee with someone that is a potential senior hire for the organisation once a month. Often it is people he has met in industry networking events or just in his regular business dealings. He does not hire these people straight away. He makes sure to stay in touch with the ones he thinks have potential. This way when he has an impending vacancy, he knows they will take his call. Sometimes we introduce him to people we have come across. Either way he still gets us to undertake a thorough interview to determine alignment to the role and confirm they bring the right cultural attributes to the organisation.

The CEO has the line of sight to see where the organisation will be over the next two, five or 10 years and is acutely aware of the future skill sets required for the key positions in their company. The processes of securing future talent should be a conversation senior management is having within their business, and with a third-party resourcing partner on a regular basis. Carroll Consulting is passionate about role-fit, culture-fit and people-fit. With close to 30 years’ experience in this space, we welcome the opportunity to meet with you, learn more about your business and help you deliver your objectives.

Our tips for developing a pool of high potential candidates:

  • Focus on building your bench strength. Be aware of the expertise required to drive your organisation forward and deliver on your strategy and ensure you have access to a pool of talent – and the necessary development plans – to help get you there.
  • Be on the lookout for talent, be it through industry meetings, conferences, interactions with key suppliers and external meetings. Build relationships with these people. Keep them in your circle and hold informal catch ups like a coffee every few months to check in with them.
  • Ensure each critical role within the organisation has a potential successor, and if not, be aware of the skills you require that person to possess so you recognise it when you see it in others you meet externally.
  • When you identify a potential external candidate and are ready to offer them a key role, engage a third-party resource to undertake the role-fit and culture-fit assessment to ensure the individual really is the right fit for your organisation.

Happy recruiting!

Ian Hamilton

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