The Approach to Hiring Executives: The Head Hunter’s View

By Claudia Paoletti – Managing Partner Kilpatrick

When it comes to recruiting the best executive for a high-ranking position, it is necessary applying more sophisticate recruitment criteria than those usually applying when hiring junior figures.

The first challenge to be encountered identifies with competition. Companies, in fact, compete for the best talents, especially when it comes to high-ranking positions. Aware they are sought-after, most skilled candidates have the option to choose their would-be employer and the conditions at which they are ready to accept the job or not. Recruitment is therefore two-way: companies choose the best talents in the market and, candidates, in turn, choose the company to join after assessing numberless facets. For this reason, the company’s reputation is crucial with a view to attracting the best talents in the market.

The second challenge, instead, revolves around the hunt for passive candidates in the market. Your best candidates are very likely to have a job and are not actively looking for a new position. They usually neither reply to resource recruitment advertisements, nor actively use online job application tools. To be fair, they “comfortably” sit back in their roles at companies which, besides “pampering” them, have already outlined their next career move. The very first step taken by the recruiter is thus paramount as they are to persuade talents to listen to your job offer and accept your request for a meeting.

In this regard, relying on a Head Hunter undoubtedly allows you to intercept more effectively the Manager you have set your eyes on. It is crucial using all the weapons available to set your call apart from others’ and to sell the professional opportunity you are offering at its best. The first 10 seconds of a contact-making call are going to determine the success or failure of your professional story with the candidate.

To the first two challenges adds on a third one linked to the new generation of managers, namely the Millennials. As a matter of fact, this generation is landing strategic roles in companies and the recruiters of junior figures are beginning to interact with them. They need new approaches and their needs are different to the senior candidates we have long been dealing with during our careers.

If you plan to hire the executives and leaders of the future, you are to acknowledge the changes this generation embodies and find the right qualities in your new talent. Remember that this is a generation who value a project’s content much more than the security of a job, who demand a digital, multi-cultural environment, who want to grow quickly without undergoing too much sacrifice, who value the quality of life and the time spent with their family or friends. In a nutshell, we cannot deal with the new Managers as we have done for many years. We need to take them aback and speak their same language, while offering them roles in line with their needs.


Below are some tips useful to ensure the success of a high-ranking recruitment project:


  • Make sure you understand the context the candidate is going to fit into and define upfront a correct job description to identify your choice and avoid making mistakes;


  • Be unobtrusive and comply with confidentiality. Make sure you provide as high professional standards as possible when you contact the potential candidates throughout the recruitment process.


  • Establish excellent personal relationships with the candidates. In order to do so, it is necessary taking a highly personalized approach. The candidate should always be at the heart of the hiring process. Make sure you get to know your candidate inside out before submitting them any professional opportunity.


  • Find out what drives them.It is fundamental knowing what drives people. Some Managers are driven by money, others by the project content, technology or by the desire to lead high-performing teams.


  • Be patient. When it comes to Executive Search, you must be ready to commit time and lead effort to win over the desired person. Recruiting Executives is a time-consuming, delicate process. It is most likely that the best candidates need plenty of reassurance to start considering your offer and you need to be there while supporting them during the choice.


  • Candidate experience. Remember, a great many companies chase after the best senior executive talents. This is the reason why you must ensure that their candidate experience with your company truly stands out. Since these candidates are very much in demand and a great many companies are in search of them, they have probably seen and heard everything. That’s why your approach needs being differentiating. Show your candidates that you are keen on meeting them. Carefully listen to them and be ready to fulfil their needs. Be ready to meet them even after the working hours or at the week-end, if the need arises. Make them feel valued.