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What to look for in the search for your next executive

search-for-your-next-executive-300x193Leadership is an essential part of any successful business, and getting the right person to take your organisation to the next level is a critically important decision – this much is known. So how do the best organisations manage this process to ensure a successful hire?

As an experienced Executive Search Consultant, here are the five key practices I would recommend using when hiring your next leader:

  1. Know what you want and clearly define it – do you have a clear direction and strategy that underpins your growth plan over the coming 3-5 years? How would the new hire contribute to this and what would their success in the role look like?
  2. Seek candidates in the non-active job market – tools such as market mapping can inform where the skills you require are located in the current market. Consider approaching (either directly or via a third party) the best candidates rather than relying on responses to job adverts, which will only give you access to active job seekers.
  3. Utilise your Network – existing and reliable contacts in your field are always worth canvassing in relation to potential candidates to approach, as well as soliciting information on candidates you have already identified.
  4. Make sure cultural fit is a key component of your decision – although having the skills and experience to do the role is essential, the wrong leader for your organisation will be a significant step backwards. Consider using psychometric testing, group interviews and peer feedback as well as the usual reference checks to get consensus before committing.
  5. Have a defined review process – the first 6 months of a new role are critical to the long term success of an executive, so making sure they have clear direction from the outset is essential. A regular, structured feedback and review process during these critical early months can alleviate any issues early and lead to long term productivity.

Many organisations will already recognise and employ a number of these, but it constantly amazes me how many businesses are unwilling to deviate from their traditional recruitment methods when hiring a key executive.

With the advent of social media, executives are changing the way they communicate to prospective employers, making it essential to at least consider reviewing your attraction strategy to reflect this shift.

No system is foolproof but by putting in place the above five strategies you will be eradicating the most common reasons for making a bad hire, therefore minimising the risk to your business. Happy hunting!