Doing the Impossible: Recruiting Top Executives from Great Companies

Recruiting is a tough job in itself. We are in a candidate driven market where most recruiters are stating their candidates are receiving multiple competitive offers from top companies. Recruiters have to work harder than ever to get their candidate to accept their job offer. As competitive as it is, there is no better feeling than when you make a successful placement, and all parties are happy.


I was recently asked: “What is the hardest position to recruit for?” Can you guess my answer? That’s right, Executives. Top Executives are usually highly invested in their company and have carved out a path for themselves, their team, and their future. To get an Executive to leave all of that behind and join a new company seems like an uphill battle. In a study by Gallup, they report that “55% of managers and core staff report that they are either actively looking for a different job than the one they have now or watching for job opportunities, only 34% of leaders in the workforce state the same.”


Having 30 years of recruiting experience, here are my top three tips for getting an Executive to say yes to the job offer:

1. In the financial world, good branding is imperative. If the Executive I am trying to recruit is working at a National Bank, it can be difficult for them to consider a smaller community bank because of the lack of name recognition. Yet, the smaller bank could advance the Executive’s career in a shorter timeline because there are less layers between the Executive and the CEO. This is where I give prominence to the benefits and unique opportunities that accompany working with a smaller bank such as better work life balance, more autonomy, smaller teams and greater opportunities.

Prior to reaching out to any Executives, I urge each recruiter or hiring manager to perform a basic audit of the company’s brand. After a thorough discussion of the results I can then identify the Executive who will be the best fit for this company. Here is a great article from Entrepreneur Magazine that goes over some quick tactics to elevate your brand.

2. I get to know the candidates current job situation and what they like about it. If an Executive is comfortable in their position, then I like to ask what they have done lately that they are proud of or what their current role has allowed them to contribute to their company. One of my favorite questions to ask is if they had a magic wand and could create their own job description, what would that look like? I also ask who they would report to and at what company would they be working for in their ideal career.

This line of questioning can be the catalyst they need to start looking at new career opportunities. It also gives me great insight into whether or not they are truly an excellent fit for the leadership role I am recruiting for.

3. One of the most important things I do is follow up with my Candidate and Client after an Executive starts in their new position. A recent study by McKinsey found that “it takes most Executives 51 days to start feeling comfortable in their new position.” I always do a 30/60/90 day check-in with both the candidate and the hiring manager. The dual sided check-ins help ensure an easier transition for the Executive by making sure all concerns are being heard and addressed.