How to hire for senior positions

Recruiting for positions of any level can be stressful at times, with a number of considerations required to ensure your business ends up with the best possible staff. These concerns are then amplified when attempting to hire at the senior and executive level, as successful candidates will often have greater responsibilities within the business. 

Follow the process

As with any normal recruitment drive, there will need to be a plan and process in place. This ensures that the there is a structured system, which is important for both employers and candidates as it provides a stable experience and prevents confusion. 

It can follow a similar outline to the usual hiring process for lower-level employees as well, as the general ideas remain the same. Employing recruitment software can help in this instance, enabling recruiters to keep track of progress in an efficient manner.

As is usual, a written job description is essential. This can then be followed by standard vetting and interview processes in the same way a normal hiring procedure would operate. The main differences when recruiting at this level are therefore not too far removed from what would normally take place. 

Be aware of the scale

The biggest change that will be observed when looking to fill senior and executive roles is the scale of the operation, particularly with regards to time. With higher level positions often requiring specialised knowledge it can be harder to find the right person for the role, hence the increase in the time it may take. 

Research from the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) reveals the difference when hiring for executive positions in comparison to regular roles. The APSC discovered that the average time for filling non-senior roles was 75 working days, compared to 93 for senior and executive positions. 

These difficulties can be mitigated by pursuing channels that specialise in recruitment of this nature. This adds to the scale of the search as well, with the potential for outside involvement and an increase in costs. It's also important to not get distracted, with productivity solutions ensuring that the process stays on track.

Macquarie University noticed these differences in its 2014 study on recruitment practices in Australia. It found that recruiters looking to fill senior positions often used specialised networks to spread the word, ensuring they were targeting the correct audience. Other preferred channels included social media networks such as LinkedIn, with some also electing to consult executive recruitment agencies.

Using these options broadens the scale of the recruitment process, and differentiates it from the hiring of regular employees. 

Take note of the current market

There is value in studying market trends and forecasts when looking to hire for these positions, as they can have a significant effect on your recruitment process. 

According to The Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC), 72 per cent of executives across the world are positive about possible employment opportunities in 2015. This marks a notable increase over the previous year, where only 51 per cent shared the same view, as published by the New Zealand Herald. 

This is likely to result in a competitive market for employers seeking executives, and could push recruitment resources to their limits. Being aware of this enables companies to get ahead and prepare strategies to ensure they are able to attract the talent they want. 

Should you hire internally or externally?

This is a decision that should be made early on in the recruitment process, as business performance may dictate how candidates are sourced. The University of Missouri believes that the answer depends on what a company seeks to achieve with their new employee. 

In a study published in April of this year, the university found that struggling businesses could benefit from a fresh perspective. On the other hand, companies looking to increase stability were advised to pursue internal promotion. 

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