Hiring a CTO can be one of the most important decisions you make for your company's future. However, by optimizing your recruitment and screening processes, you can still find the perfect candidate to fill a full-time CTO role.
How effectively your business and its employees adapt and utilize different types of technology (including business software, automation systems, phone systems, and IT innovations) can have a very real impact on your bottom line.
To improve and optimize technology use, many companies look to hire Chief Technology Officers (CTOs). These executives oversee a company's technologies, assessing how effectively they're being used and making recommendations for improvement. CTOs can also recommend new technologies to improve processes and optimize efficiency — all while working closely with team members across all departments to move the entire organization forward.
Why Should You Hire a CTO?
Before you start thinking ahead to writing job descriptions and scheduling interviews, it's important to reflect on why your business needs a CTO. In most cases, the primary goal of having a CTO is to improve the performance and growth of the entire company using technologies (existing or new).
Likewise, your rationale behind bringing a world-class CTO on board should be specific to your company's size and goals. For example, if you have a startup in its early stages, a CTO can help you build a technological business strategy from the ground up. If you have a larger organization with many different departments, then a CTO can work with CEOs, CIOs, and stakeholders to optimize performance and expand.
Additionally, many businesses are becoming increasingly digital and tech-driven — and for some, their tech is their business. CTOs play a crucial part in business development, helping their organizations stay competitive (and lucrative) in this rapidly evolving technological space.
Main CTO Job Responsibilities
Specific job responsibilities for a CTO will vary slightly from one company to the next, but the overall goal of the work is roughly the same: to help businesses better utilize and adapt technology to improve their outcomes.
Generally speaking, a CTO is responsible for overseeing the use of technology within a company, including software programs and apps.
CTOs then assess the use of these technologies and pinpoint areas of strength or improvement, along with strategies to improve performance and output using current technologies or adapting new ones.
Other common duties and responsibilities of a CTO may include:
- Implementing technology strategies based on a company's short and long-term goals and budgets.
- Assessing and improving upon the use of current technologies within the company.
- Researching and helping to implement new technologies as needed.
- Presenting reports on the company's technology goals and progress.
- Working closely with a company's IT department and existing technology team (and sometimes overseeing and assisting with the recruiting process).
- Working closely with a CISO to develop information security policies and frameworks.
What To Look For in a Qualified CTO
At-Ready Technical Skills
The most successful leaders often have experience in the fields they lead, and CTOs are no exception. A great CTO candidate will have excellent leadership and communication skills to guide their teams — but they should also have the technical chops to step in and provide hands-on support when it’s needed.
Ideally, you’ll want to pull in candidates with coding and data analysis skills, and solid backgrounds in IT infrastructure, information security, research and development, and asset management.
Some organizations require their CTO candidates to have formal degrees in their field, like a degree in computer science or engineering.
Sure, CTOs are hands-on with the tech, but they’re still responsible for making recommendations and implementing technologies that will directly impact a company's growth and success. Because of this, the right CTO for the job will have a track record that demonstrates advanced business acumen and an understanding of your company's short and long-term goals and how to achieve them.
Innovation and Creativity
A confident and capable CTO won't be afraid to get creative when they need to be — especially if your company's current technologies are stagnating. Ideally, you'll want to find a CTO candidate who is ready to research and implement new initiatives that will help your business reach new levels of growth.
Adaptive Problem-Solving and Forward-Thinking Skills
Using and implementing new technology hardly goes smoothly at the beginning. Instead, it requires a great deal of problem-solving and adaptive thinking. Look for a CTO who has demonstrated their ability to solve problems on their feet in an existing role.
A great CTO is always looking at the big picture, so it's key to assess how technology will support your company's goals — not just now, but in the future. Having this strong sense of vision will keep your company focused on what's most important at any given time.
Top Ways To Find Qualified CTO Candidates
Partner With Executive Search Firms
Perhaps the best way to find a great CTO is to work directly with an executive search firm. Executive search firms like Hunt Club specialize in recruiting and hiring candidates for executive and other senior-level roles.
These recruiting specialists understand the qualities and skills most important in a CTO, how to find the most qualified talent for the job, and how to properly screen and interview to narrow down your options.
And, of course, an executive search firm handles all of this so your internal HR teams can focus on other aspects of your business.
Leverage the Power of Network Effects
Finding the best tech talent these days is all about who you know, so be sure to draw upon your professional network to tap into potential candidates.
Even if you're struggling to find CTO candidates the traditional way, there's a good chance you know some people in your industry who may be able to recommend somebody for the job. At the very least, you may be able to get members of your network to share your CTO job posting on their social media accounts to spread the word.
Take Advantage of Online Job Boards and Social Media
Speaking of social media, never underestimate the power of social media networks and online job boards when it comes to finding tech talent. LinkedIn is an especially valuable resource for talent seekers, especially when users see your posting and share it with others in their own networks. Meanwhile, tech-specific job boards like TechFetch and HackerEarth can also be viable options for getting your job posting in front of qualified candidates.
Attend Tech Industry Events
Industry conferences, trade shows, and other tech events provide great opportunities to network and meet with potential talent first-hand. Even if you don't meet a candidate at one of these events, you might meet somebody who knows a qualified professional (network effects!) actively seeking a Chief Technology Officer role.
Tips When Screening and Interviewing CTO Candidates
Narrowing down your options and interviewing candidates are among the most challenging parts of the CTO recruitment process. However, these steps are vital because the right interview and screening process will help you hone in on the best talent for the job type.
The CTO role is unique in that it requires not just a great deal of technical skill but also big-picture thinking and problem-solving. A solid screening and interview strategy will help you weed out the job seekers who may be better suited for a more specialized role.
When scheduling interviews, coming up with the right list of interview questions is key. It's important to ask questions about a candidate's technical and practical experience and how they may fit into your company's overall culture. Don't hesitate to ask a CTO candidate to define their leadership style, discuss how they've handled conflict in past roles, or even what type of work schedule they prefer. These questions can provide valuable insight into whether a candidate fits your company's culture and values.
Finally, consider screening candidates with technical skills testing. Setting up an on-the-spot technical challenge, a skills test, or even a take-home assessment can help you determine which candidates have the technical skills (such as those in computer science and software engineering) to back up their leadership and critical-thinking skills.
Making the Offer to Your New CTO
You've gone through the screening process and conducted multiple rounds of interviews. You know which candidate is the best fit for the job — now you need to draw up an offer they can't refuse.
This is where things can get tricky.
Offers are more competitive than ever before. The candidate you're offering the position to may already have multiple job offers pending, so a strong compensation and benefits package is vital.
Of course, it's not all about the money.
More than ever, CTO job candidates also prioritize other benefits when deciding which job to accept, such as a flexible work schedule. In a McKinsey & Company survey, 87% of workers who were offered a hybrid or flexible work schedule took advantage of this option by working remotely one or more days per week.
If your company can offer a hybrid work schedule or other flexible scheduling options, this can be an extremely lucrative benefit that other companies may not be able to compete with.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of tangible benefits. On-site gyms, well-equipped break rooms, and other seemingly small perks can help filter your organization to the top of a great candidate's list!
Work With Hunt Club To Recruit Your Next CTO
Hiring a CTO comes with some unique challenges, especially when considering the work's big-picture nature. Ultimately, you need to find a candidate with plenty of technical expertise who can also collaborate well with others and align your company's technology operations with your short and long-term business goals.
This may seem like a tall order, but you'll be in great shape with the right recruitment strategy in place.
Looking for expert help to staff your company's C-suite? Hunt Club has you covered with recruitment services for CTOs, CIOs, and every executive position in between. Our talent acquisition specialists have the resources and connections your business needs to find top talent in a tech-driven world.