What is your job as CEO when it comes to recruiting? The conventional view of the CEO's role is to lead the company with vision and strategy to deliver the brand promise and results to stakeholders. For the small to medium-sized business, this is not enough - CEOs must also become the chief recruiter.
Why? Because CEOs are in the perfect position to target and attract those that will execute vision from the ground up. These top performers will also help drive the results that will bring your vision and strategy to fruition.
When I founded HireVue, I quickly realized that I couldn't accomplish everything myself. I needed a team of high-performers, industry leaders, and disruptive visionaries. However, at the time my 'office' was still in my parent's house. How could I possibly compete with established organizations with billions in revenue?
Whether a fledgling startup or a multinational corporation, you are the average of everyone around you. To have the best chance at accomplishing great things from the get-go, you need talent that most would consider "out of your league."
To get buy-in from industry leaders and potential candidates that are "out of your league," you first need to ask for input. How do they think about your industry? How does that relate to themselves and their career? It all starts with a conversation (with the right person). Getting a conversation is relatively simple, but converting them into candidates for your business is a little more difficult.
This is the time to step into the CEO's traditional role: lay out your vision and strategy. Is there a match between your vision and theirs? If there is, lay the groundwork for future cooperation. For example: "We seem to have the same vision for this industry, if we worked together we could really get some things done." Plant the seeds with the best potential team members with your vision.
After that initial conversation, use a mutual connection to follow up. Have them ask your target recruit what they thought of the conversation and extend an invitation for a personal visit. If your two visions mesh, chances are they'll say "yes" - or at least commit to future opportunities for consulting and advice.
I know this system works because it worked for me. In the early days of HireVue, I knew I needed a top-of-the-line Chief Marketing Officer. Thinking about what next-gen heads of marketing looked like, I set my sights on one of the foremost directors of marketing in talent acquisition software: the kind of guy who got offers from multi-billion dollar corporations on a regular basis.
In our conversation, I laid out my plan for HireVue. I showed him what we were trying to do, and what gaps I saw in the business. I asked him where he saw the talent acquisition industry heading, and there was a match. By the end of the conversation, I told him: "You'd make my life easier if you threw your hat in the ring." At the time, he chuckled and hung up.
A couple days later I had a mutual contact reach out to see if my ideal Chief Marketing Officer had given my offer any further consideration. As it happened, he couldn't get the vision for HireVue out of his head. Two weeks later, the unrecruitable CMO was working at HireVue. It all started with a conversation, but at the right level. A recruiter can't engage "out of your league" candidates the same way a CEO can.
CEOs should take a leading role in the recruitment of top talent because they hold the keys to the future. In reality, this doesn't take away from his or her traditional role as strategic leader and visionary, it simply refocuses and targets it at the people your organization needs. In other words, the same vision you are leading the team internally to achieve is the same you need to bring to life to top talent that can help you achieve that vision.