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Making Your Company Attractive to C-Suite Executives


C-Suite executives, like CEOs, COOs, and CMOs, are unique and wonderful creatures. While they can guide your company to enormous success, they don’t always make choices you’d expect. During the hiring process, their desires and motivations can be totally different than all other employees you’ll ever hire.

Can your recruitment process keep up with these high-level execs? Here are some best practices for attracting top-notch candidates.

Speak Their Language

The first thing to know about C-level executives is that they tend to be deep into their careers with robust skill sets. Many of them, especially CEO candidates, have an advanced form of “business speak” they’ve learned during a long career. If you want to attract them, you’ll have to speak their language.

Hiring for your C-Suite - SelectOne

Geoffrey James, an editor for Inc. magazine, has researched and written about the language of C-suite executives. He created the following list of trigger words that he says can magically connect with high-level execs.

  • Mergers
  • Acquisitions
  • Top management changes
  • Big new customers
  • Indictments
  • Layoffs

Although you wouldn’t necessarily include these words in your employment advertising, they do give you an indication of what occupies the minds of top executives: complex, big picture topics. In fact, James’ research found that some of executives’ favorite things to discuss included power and control issues, infrastructure, industry contacts, and turf wars. Those are some hefty matters.

All of this means a C-level executive will probably come to an interview with questions about your company’s biggest, most pressing issues. Be prepared to answer these tough questions.

Do Your Research

Before hiring company executives, do extensive research about their field of work and the competitive pay for someone at their level - then try to go beyond it. The last thing you want to do is insult them by making a lowball offer.

Of course, keep in mind that while pay is extremely important for high-level executives, they can probably afford to make a tradeoff between pay and quality of life. One study of large corporations found that there were 5 key factors that attracted executives, beyond pay:

Type of work. High-level executives absolutely must do something they love.

Opportunities. These are high achievers. They don’t view this job as the top of their career.

Work/life balance. If they get the feeling that this job will harm their personal life, they’ll opt out.

Excitement. They’re tired of bureaucracy and boundaries. What new challenges are available?

Leadership. Above all else, they view themselves as a leader. The job should offer autonomy.

Focus on Leadership

In fact, the idea of leadership should permeate every message you share with executive job candidates. At this high level of their career, they usually feel a deep personal commitment to being a leader in their field.

This means you’ll likely lose their interest if the job sounds too full of paperwork and long, dull meetings. They’d rather be out leading the charge, making big decisions that affect the future of the company.

In the hiring process, focus on the leadership aspects of the job that are more likely to resonate with executive candidates: diligence, resilience, tenacity, humility, knowledge, personality, and the ability to inspire. These are the parts of the job that will help you attract top talent.

Make a Competitive Offer - Fast

C-level executives don’t like waiting. They have a history of making things happen, and they expect the company that hires them to be the same way.

If your hiring process is too slow or tedious, you’ll lose their attention. Another company that moves faster will quickly snap them up. So do everything you can to move at top speed.

When you make them a pay offer, don’t try to justify it based on the going rate in your industry or area. For a top executive, this cheapens the experience and comes off as impersonal. They want you to hire them because of their individual potential. It’s not all about money.

Still, make a competitive offer that respects the high wages of C-level executives. Be prepared to pay at least $100,000 to $200,000 a year - or much higher depending on variables like the location of your company, field you work in, and exact position involved.

Present your pay offer in a simple, professional way and emphasize how much your company values their excellent leadership qualities. Ensure everything flows smoothly by involving a professional hiring service that streamlines the process.

SelectOne specializes in job suitability - making great matches between executives and companies. Get in touch to schedule a consultation today.

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