Attract Executive Talent in a Post-Pandemic Recruitment World

by Harrison Rausch

Much talk of labor challenges, employee turnover and the Great Resignation this past year has focused on rank-and-file workers and mid-level talent.

But CEOs and other top executives have not been immune to these forces.

The Great Resignation Spreads to the C-Suite

Nearly 70% of executives are seriously considering leaving their jobs, according to a recent Deloitte report. In fact, data from consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed that through August more than 800 CEOs had already quit their positions in 2022.

Additionally, a recent Forbes story cited further CEO retirements and turnover in the coming months, adding to businesses’ year-long labor and recruitment issues.

Much of the reasons cited for the top brass either quitting or considering it sound familiar to what organizations have heard over the past two years from talent at all levels of the company:

  • Negative health impacts
  • Struggles lingering from the pandemic
  • General burnout

A Few Good Executives: A Different Approach to Recruitment

Although the challenges are similar, businesses should not rely on the same tactics they use to fill executive roles as they do when recruiting rank-and-file employees.

After all, what attracts top executives is not the same that attracts frontline, middle manager and other employee groups.

The Three R’s of Executive Recruitment

Senior-level executives’ experience, knowledge and skills are critical elements to driving business growth and expansion. That’s why it’s vital for organizations to understand the three R’s of executive recruitment as they seek to attract these leaders in today’s complex business world.

  • Recruit: Prior to launching their recruitment processes, organizations must first evaluate and identify exactly what they want and need for their executive roles. This means homing in and defining “the right fit.” No matter how impressive a prospective candidate’s background, if he or she doesn’t gel with the existing culture or interact well with others on the team, neither the candidate nor the organization will be successful.
  • Reward: To attract top executive talent, an executive-level benefits package is required. Beyond traditional benefits such as competitive base pay, medical insurance and retirement plan, crafting a package of extended benefits focused on retirement, deferred compensation and equity programs can be a critical differentiator in attracting high-quality candidates.
  • Retain: The existing labor, turnover and other business challenges make it even tougher to retain top executive talent. That’s why recruitment doesn’t end with the best candidate agreeing to terms. Companies should do more to create a nurturing, encouraging environment for executives to commit for the long term.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the three R’s and how businesses can use them to recruit and retain elite executive talent to their C-suites.

Recruit: Finding Executive Candidates in the Right Places

Organizations can’t attract their next CEO with a job posting on their websites. Prospective executives aren’t looking for new roles in the same places candidates for other employee levels do. 

Rather than online job boards or listing sites, executives rely on professional and social networks, as well as executive recruiters to seek and assess new opportunities.

To find those prospective C-suite candidates, consider using the following sources:

  • Professional and alumni networks
  • LinkedIn
  • Business leaders’ personal and professional connections
  • Executive recruiting agencies

Recruiting for and filling executive roles is completely different from filling other employee roles. It’s important for organizations to take proactive steps long before they have a C-suite opening to ensure they can find a good crop of prospective candidates.

Whether through board service, previous partnerships or other professional connections, executives often have established relationships with organizations before they accept a position with them.

If there is a particular role or individual a business wants to target for an existing or future executive opening, current leadership should get involved in community and industry groups to proactively make connections.

Even simply making a LinkedIn connection can start the process of building a relationship with potential candidates.

Streamline Candidates’ Recruitment Experience

Most job candidates at any level will drop out of the process if it becomes frustrating, too complicated, overly lengthy or insulting.

Many will also share their negative experiences with others. The same is true of prospective executives, except they are even more likely to be turned off by a poor recruitment experience.

A common frustration among executives is a lack of communication from the recruiting company. Organizations must be clear and engaging throughout the application process so their candidates know how the process is unfolding and where they stand.

VIP Treatment for VIP Prospects

Treat VIP candidates like VIP candidates. Other companies are already doing this.

For example, introducing executive candidates to other company executives isn’t just schmoozing. It creates a positive connection between the prospect and the organization. Going out for dinner and drinks isn’t simply wining and dining; it also provides an opportunity to get to know them in a casual situation.

Reward: Crafting an Above-&-Beyond Executive Benefits Package

When attracting executive talent, it’s critical to create a benefits package that goes above and beyond the needs of prospective leaders. To draw elite talent, ordinary won’t cut it.

These exclusive benefits and perks may include:

  • Increased income replacement
  • Medical reimbursement
  • Guaranteed lifetime income
  • Outplacement services
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Supplemental life insurance
  • Employer-funded supplement executive retirement plans
  • Nonqualified deferred compensation plans
  • Concierge medical services

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to crafting an executive benefits package. Like every business decision, the specifics of a company’s executive benefits will depend on various factors such as the type of talent being recruited, company culture and budget.

Retain: Ensuring Executives Commit for the Long Haul

Everything an organization does throughout the recruitment process impacts long-term retention. After all, keeping top talent starts at first contact.

But what about after an organization has gone through the process and recruited the best person for the role? The next step is long-term retention and ensuring it can recruit executives down the line. Consider: 

  • Transparency in Communication: Cultivating a culture where an organization’s top leaders and executive talent can thrive, exercise autonomy and share ideas is vital for individual career growth as well as continued business success. Businesses ought to implement policies and strategies to make it easy for their executives to be transparent and communicate openly with everyone throughout the company.
  • Lay Out Clear Career Advancement Tracks: Hard-working, talented executives thrive in a challenging environment. They want to know their hard work will be rewarded with additional opportunities, salary, titles and responsibilities. Businesses should lay out clear expectations and pathways for executives to understand what they must do to climb higher in the organization.
  • Growth Opportunities: The best talent wants to get better. Executives are no exception. To keep them around for the long term, companies must provide ample opportunities for their execs to grow and develop, such as offering to pay for educational courses, certifications, seminars or other credentials to allow top talent to grow and improve their skills.

Never Stop Recruiting

As the business climate evolves and new challenges arise, it’s important to remember that turnover will remain a part of doing business. Businesses must institute a permanent recruiting strategy where they always are on the lookout for talent and potential candidates.

Harrison Rausch serves as talent acquisition specialist with Lovitt & Touché, A Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company, where he assists with the firm’s recruitment efforts. 

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