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How To Optimize Your CEO Recruiting Process

Michelle Han-Taylor
6 min read

When your company has job openings, it's all about finding quality candidates to fill those positions quickly. 

However, when it comes to finding the right person to fill an executive leadership role, such as chief executive officer (CEO), it's important to slow things down a bit. Not only is recruiting a CEO a huge decision (and costly investment) for any organization but choosing the wrong candidate for this role can hugely affect the company and its future growth.

So, what exactly sets the CEO recruitment process apart from other hiring processes — and what strategies can your team use to find the best candidate for this important position?

Let's dive into this important topic and work towards closing that deal.

How Is Recruiting a CEO Different From Recruiting Other Roles?

Recruiting a CEO differs significantly from recruiting a more "traditional" role within any organization. After all, the CEO is an executive leadership role that comes with a great deal of influence, power, and decision-making. 

Number of Individuals Involved in the Process

Because the stakes are so high when hiring a CEO, there are often many individuals involved in the process aside from your typical hiring manager and human resources team.

Many organizations find it useful to create a CEO hiring committee comprising other company executives, a board of directors, leadership teams, and trusted employees or mentors.

Extensive Due Diligence

Comprehensive due diligence is also a must when hiring for such a vital role as a CEO. You need to be sure that your candidate's credentials are legitimate, that they have a positive reputation, and that they're a good cultural fit for your business. 

Conducting extensive due diligence usually includes running a background check, reviewing public records, and (in many cases) even diving into a candidate's social media accounts to look for anything questionable or concerning. For CEOs that will have access to financial accounts, a credit check may also be necessary.

Time Spent on the Recruiting Process

With so many stakeholders involved and so much due diligence to conduct, it's no surprise that the amount of time spent on the recruiting process for a CEO is much longer than that of a more traditional role.

How Long Does It Take To Recruit a CEO?

According to an SHRM Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report, it takes an average of 36 days to fill a traditional job opening across all industries. Time to fill refers to the time between when a job opening is posted and when the candidate accepts your job offer.

As you can probably imagine, the time it takes to recruit a CEO can be significantly longer. While exact recruiting times for CEO positions can vary greatly depending on your company's search committee and other factors, it's not uncommon for it to take several months to a year to fill this type of executive role.

8 Strategies for Effective CEO Recruiting

If your company is getting ready to embark on its CEO recruiting journey, there are some best practices you can follow to streamline the process and find the right person for the job.

1. Identify Qualities and Skills Needed For This Role

Start by considering exactly what your organization needs in a successful CEO.

In general, all CEOs play similar roles of serving as the face of the company, working with stakeholders and board members, and collaborating with other C-suite management (including your CFO, COO, president, and vice president).

With these important responsibilities in mind, CEOs must be both adaptable and trustworthy to work successfully with such a wide range of people on a regular basis.

Because many will ultimately be turning to the CEO for guidance, these professionals should also have a strong vision for the future of the company. This vision, along with motivation and ambition to carry out goals, can make for a successful CEO.

Ultimately, it will be up to you (and your hiring committee) to decide on the most important qualities and skills to find in a CEO. Once you do, however, be sure to write these down and refer to them regularly throughout the recruiting process.

2. Utilize Executive Recruiting Services

If you really want to expedite your CEO search and tap into top talent, you may need to branch out beyond your company's own recruitment abilities. Working with executive recruiting agencies can make all the difference. At Hunt Club, we're proud to offer comprehensive executive recruiting services to take the heavy lifting off your plate.

Our experienced and knowledgeable search consultant team knows what it takes to find top senior-level talent. 

Using our established industry connections and robust recruiting technology, we can effectively source referrals from top executives and provide you with a targeted pool of qualified candidates. With our extensive network of thousands of executive professionals, we can cut the average executive time to hire in half.

This means you can find the best CEO candidate easily, more quickly, and with the need for fewer resources on your end.

3. Conduct Research

Whether you're handling your own recruiting or working with an executive search firm, you'll want to tackle some research before you dive into the process any further. Specifically, you'll want to think about where you'll begin your CEO search.

Are there specific sectors of your industry that you'd like to target for potential candidates? You might even have certain businesses in mind from which you may want to recruit executive talent.

This is also a good time to consider some other important factors that go into the CEO search process, such as your reasoning for recruiting for the role, the overall scope of the search, success factors, and even a communication plan for the process.

Taking the time to conduct research ahead of your CEO recruitment process is important because this lays the foundation for your executive search strategy.

4. Build a CEO Search Committee

Major hiring decisions, such as choosing a CEO, should not be made by one person unilaterally. Instead, it's a good idea to assemble a hiring committee.

So, how do you go about building a search committee?

In general, hiring managers and human resource professionals should be included in the group. However, a more comprehensive team may be needed for hiring a C-suite position, so consider adding other executive leaders and stakeholders to the group.

Once your committee is assembled, take the time to sit down as a group and clarify goals, roles, and responsibilities so there is no confusion or conflict.

Ultimately, using a hiring committee to assist in your CEO recruitment ensures that you consider a diverse range of perspectives and backgrounds when making a decision. This, in turn, can help you find the best candidate for the job.

5. Network Online and In-Person

Oftentimes, the best talent for a CEO role is already working elsewhere within your industry, which is why networking is so important. Establishing connections with other industry executives can make it easier to find potential candidates when the time comes to fill a CEO position within your company.

There are plenty of effective ways to go about online and in-person networking. Consider, for example, attending industry trade shows and similar events. These industry trade shows provide excellent opportunities for meeting professionals and executives from other companies.

Once these relationships are established, you can turn to these professionals for referrals.

Online networking is also a must in today's connected world. Platforms like LinkedIn make connecting with executives and industry leaders from across the globe easier than ever.

Take the time to update your LinkedIn profile and make meaningful connections to thought leaders in your industry: You never know when these networking relationships may come in handy during your CEO search.

6. Create a Diverse Candidate Pool

When creating a list of candidates for a CEO position, your hiring committee should aim for a diverse pool. This will open up your recruitment process and expose your team to different ways of thinking that could benefit your organization in the long run.

Research has shown that more diverse executive teams strengthen businesses. A 2019 McKinsey & Company study reveals that "companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile."

7. Prepare a Proper Benefits Package

Of course, filling a CEO position isn't just about finding the right person for the job. It's also about being able to successfully recruit that candidate.

These days, executive recruiting is more competitive than ever. You'll need to make sure that your offer stands out from the rest and gives your candidate a true incentive to consider accepting the role.

So, what are today's CEO candidates looking for in a great benefits package? In addition to an enticing salary, consider offering some (or all) of the following:

  • Severance package (to mitigate risk)
  • Equity grants
  • Retirement fund lump sum
  • Excellent healthcare benefits
  • Relocation costs (if applicable)
  • Bonuses

Ultimately, putting together a lucrative benefits package is all about consulting with your team and knowing what your organization can afford to offer. Knowing what your competitors are offering to executive candidates can also be helpful here, so do your research.

8. Remember to Assess Cultural Fit, Leadership Style, and Growth Potential

Last but certainly not least, look beyond how a CEO candidate looks on paper.

A candidate could check off all your committee's "boxes" and still not be a good fit for your company if their leadership style doesn't mesh with your organizational goals. Likewise, it's important to make sure that a candidate is a good cultural fit for your company and that your teams share the same core values.

Growth potential is another critical factor to consider when recruiting a new CEO. The person you end up hiring for the job should have both a short- and long-term vision for your company. Otherwise, things can stagnate quickly.

Recruit Your Next CEO Successful With Hunt Club

Recruiting a great CEO can transform your company's future and take your growth to the next level. 

Looking to expedite your CEO recruitment process with the help of a functional expert?

Hunt Club is here to help. Let us put our extensive network and proprietary technology to work for you! Our people-first executive search team is ready to find your next business leader.

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