Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Recruiting C Level Candidates to Small Businesses - National Post

In a small business you need to be especially sure that you have the right team in place.Naturally this is true of any business, but particularly in a small organization with limited resources and such a unique working environment that fit is paramount. A lot of thought, planning, marketing and strategy should go into any productive hire - especially for a senior role at a small firm. 
The cost of mis-hiring at the executive level can be huge. In the case of small businesses where there is often not an abundance of disposable funds it is vital to know how to attract and hire the right senior team members. This can be done through your network and sometimes through posting positions on recruitment or industry related sites. That said, there are certain roles that are so integral to the functioning of your small business, that you may need to expand your search by accessing talented c-level candidates who are not actively searching for a role. The best way to do this is with the help of executive search professionals. 
I spoke with Gillian Tessis, Executive Search Consultant with The Bedford Consulting Group who has worked with small businesses and start ups to ensure that they hire the right talent for their senior teams. She says that to attract a candidate from a larger organization, the candidate will truly need to believe in the vision of the President/CEO. Tessis feels that there is generally more perceived risk joining a smaller or start up firm than a more established company. Naturally, the right candidate for a small business will have an entrepreneurial spirit and will be attracted to what is unique about a growing firm. Tessis feels that candidates will be more likely to make a career move if presented with inspirational leadership and a compelling story. 
In terms of executive compensation, Tessis is clear that when it comes to a senior level executive joining a start up, they tend to expect an equity stake in the organization (ie stock options or phantom stock). This is in addition to a cash compensation package that may have to be richer in order to compensate for the risk associated with joining a smaller organization or a start up firm. 
It is not unlikely that small organizations will be interested in the experience of an executive from a larger organization when it comes to filling some of their senior roles. Small organizations may be impressed by the experience of someone who has been a key player for a Fortune 500. However, the person conducting interviews on behalf of the small firm needs to effectively screen for organizational fit. Tessis agrees that a new hire from a large organization may not be able to adjust to the new reality of limited resources and nimble decision making. According to Tessis, small organizations need to screen these candidates for some evidence of being able to succeed in a leaner, faster paced, entrepreneurial environment.
Tessis stresses that in today's economy there is a critical shortage of qualified candidates for an increasing pool of leadership roles. Small businesses retain her firm’s services when they are serious about attracting top talent for their mission critical
leadership assignments and can't afford to make a mistake.