February 25, 2021

Succeeding in the post-pandemic environment has required rapid adaptation by CEOs. Since March of 2020, best practices in executive search have evolved more rapidly than ever before. Now, as the pendulum begins to move towards a new equilibrium position – and the demand for talent is increasing exponentially – the deployment of innovative recruitment strategies that combine pioneering approaches with traditional tactics will ensure companies operate with the competitive advantage necessary to attract the most sought-after executives.

CEOs seeking to attract best-in-class talent for their organizations must embrace new technologies, communication tactics and search strategies rather than relying upon processes they’ve leaned on throughout their career. By assessing the availability window and focusing on candidate experience, CEOs can adapt their recruiting processes to optimize their approach for talent acquisition success.

Embracing the Hyper-Pursuit

In today’s talent market, the CEO who hesitates is lost.

Juxtaposing the talent market of early post-pandemic 2020 – which was heavily impacted by elongated transaction timelines and economic uncertainty – today’s market is vibrant and moving swiftly. Top executives with successful track records are becoming available following an influx of transactions. However, the accelerated deal flow responsible for this availability has subsequently increased the demand for talent, significantly shrinking the window of availability for CEOs to recruit that talent.

When a true A-caliber talent comes into a search process, CEOs must recognize the clock is ticking and deploy the “hyper-pursuit”. By utilizing speed and decisiveness as controllable levers able to be pulled to successfully compete, CEOs can effectively adapt and win in highly competitive scenarios.

Life offers parallels which may provide context in today’s race for talent. Think of these examples as analogous to competing for a top executive. Your family is trying to book travel during peak season, and the most sought-after flights and properties have all been booked. There is hot new restaurant in town, but you cannot get reservations at a sensible time. A new house comes on the market in a prime location and the homeowner has competing offers over asking price in a matter of days. These inequities between supply and demand serve to increase competition and velocity. Mirroring these life examples, the keys to winning in today’s talent market are – recognition and acceptance of the marketplace realities, deep knowledge of the factors influencing the market and a readiness to strike when opportunity presents itself.

To best embrace the hyper-pursuit, CEOs must recognize that an aggressive search strategy is essential, and that speed, team and financials are the critical factors in determining search outcome. The interview and selection process for this caliber of talent cannot be weeks – it should be compressed into days. This may mean video interviews in the early morning, evening or over the weekend. Recruiting is a team sport, so CEOs should have their search committee and other key constituents ready to quickly join the pursuit. Finally, the best talent simply commands more financially. The best candidates will oftentimes test the upper ends of the budget. While it is not always the highest offer that wins, it is vital to understand candidate expectations to avoid an intense pursuit that ultimately ends unsuccessfully due to financial misalignment.

Optimizing the Candidate Experience

Thoughtful consideration of the candidate experience is vital for CEOs and search teams working to attract the best available talent. Adapting to control for the candidate experience is a crucial component of search strategy. By utilizing a variety of interview formats and communication tactics CEOs and search teams can effectively control how their brand is being perceived.

The hybrid interview model – which combines virtual and in-person tactics – has proven highly impactful in securing top executives. Using the hybrid model, CEOs can capitalize on the benefits of both virtual and in-person meetings. By maintaining a virtual component, interview cycle times can remain compressed, an extreme benefit given the velocity of today’s market. Similarly, virtual interviews are less disruptive to an executive’s schedule making executives more likely to engage in a search process. Complimenting these advantages, in-person interviews build a deeper connection between the candidate and company, validate fit, and provide reassurance about the opportunity.

In addition to implementing a hybrid model, focusing on communication skills across mediums has become crucial to the search process. With communication mediums ranging from video conferencing to phone calls, emails, text messaging and in-person discussions, CEOs must adapt how they communicate on each platform to better engage candidates.

To establish best-in-class communication, CEOs must recognize how technology-enabled communication differs from traditional in-person meetings. Unlike in-person meetings, which communicate through nonverbal cues, technology-enabled communication methods require CEOs to reassess how they depict the opportunity. By creating a communication strategy that maximizes multiple communication channels CEOs will generate an improved candidate experience and drive engagement of top talent.

As the economic outlook continues to provide optimism across industries, the demand for executive talent is becoming increasingly competitive. The seismic shifts brought on by the global pandemic are persuading the markets and continuously impacting the strategies and tactics which are viable in recruitment. CEOs who embrace evolving recruitment tactics and inspire their teams to move with the speed of the market will enable their organization to build the best teams. Furthermore, CEOs who apply contemporary thinking will better equip their organizations to create shareholder value long term.

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