CEO Considerations

Human resources and corporate hierarchy concept - recruiter complete team by one leader person (CEO) represented by gold cube and icon.

When we think of best practices for purposes of recruitment and selection, the following items are usually included during the candidate selection process:

  • Evidence of previous performance
  • Evidence of required skills
  • Evidence of required attributes

All of this helps the Human Resources professional guide the recruitment process through objective, evidence-based criteria in order to ensure a fair process for everyone involved.

When embarking on the recruitment process for the organization’s CEO, it would seem that these best practices would be more important than ever. When recruiting for the top job, should the recruiter not be using their top practices and procedures?

Apparently not.

According to a recent article posted in Canadian Business, some strategic recruitment best practices need to be set aside in order to get the right person into the most senior of the organization’s roles.

Chance and luck seem to take priority over traditional recruitment strategies.

Click here to read the article.

The concept that past behaviour predicts future behaviour may not apply when looking at the organizational performance record of the CEO candidate. The article argues that past organizational performance may have nothing to do with the individual and everything to do with chance. Further, the fact that the typical tenure for a CEO is around four years indicates that the role has much less time to influence the organization’s success for the long term. This would leave a good news/bad news scenario for the person coming into the role of CEO.

If the incoming CEO inherits an organizational mess, they do not have enough to clean it up. If they inherit a smoothly running system, they do not have enough time to mess it up.

Having said that, the article goes on to state that luck also comes into play. The CEO recruitment process appears to depend on who is in the right place at the right time for consideration based on where the information sits in a headhunter’s database.

Perhaps the takeaway from all of this is that the organization is bigger than the CEO and therefore a ‘bigger’ approach is needed when looking to fill the top position.

At this level, relying on luck and chance seems a risky game to play.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you agree with the contents of this article? Why or why not?
  2. What could you do as a professional headhunter to reduce the risks of luck and chance when recruiting for a CEO?
  3. Which recruitment best practices do you think would be most important for selecting someone into the role of CEO?

Digital Versus Personal Networks

The Battle Royal continues in the recruitment world.

Business people waiting for job interview. Five candidates competing for one position

What is the best way to help younger workers find a job?

Many individuals believed that tech savvy millennials would easily navigate the world of digital recruitment, but according to a Statistic Canada expert panel of youth employment, that is not the case. Vass Bednar, the chairwomen of the Canadian federal government panel on youth employment, states, “We are deluding ourselves if we think that by digitizing the job application process we are making it more democratic. Network effects are as strong as ever and this hurts young people with less social capital.”

From Stats Canada it looks like the power of the personal network is a persistent as ever in securing employment. Click on the two links below to read more information about this youth employment panel.

Click here to read about youth recruitment by HRM Online.

Click here to read a CTV news article.

Even in this digital age of recruitment where HR professionals believed that hiring would become more transparent and democratic, the research shows that personal social networks are still a significant factor in how employees are hired. HR has to be aware of this and ensure there are credible systems in place to allow networking opportunities for the younger employee trying to get a foothold into the workplace.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Identify a list of ten networking practices that a new HR professional should do to build their professional network.
  1. Discuss the ethics of hiring based on personal networks. Does it conflict with the basic goal of transparently in hiring?

Recruiting for a Change


Hand with thumb up gesture in colored Canada national flag

When newly elected, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was asked why he selected a cabinet that was equally divided between male and female representatives his (now famous) reply was, “Because it’s 2015.”  If nothing else, this message sent a clear message across national and international borders that constructive change is afoot at the Federal government level in Canada.


Moving beyond the year 2015 into 2016, we see that this need for change seems to be expanding into the recruitment and selection of highly valued public service executive positions. In the spring of 2016, the federal government issued a call to independent headhunting agencies, asking them to submit proposals for the recruitment of diverse candidates from outside of the public sector into senior political positions, including those at the Deputy Minister level.

Click here to read the article.

This shows a strategic push for the federal government to reinforce the movement of ongoing change. There is an apparent commitment to look outside of the traditionally closed government system for individuals capable of bringing fresh ideas to leadership positions. As we have learned through our human resources studies, organizational change is successful if it is led from the top of the organization; is supported by the top of the organization; and is visibly present by the actions at the top of the organization.

Having a new style of leadership commitment from the top position in the country (i.e. the office of the Prime Minister) seems to be driving the federal government along the path of continuing change which has started with the leadership recruitment and selection process.

As with any change initiative, there is push-back from within the existing system. The article identifies the ever-present recruitment and selection concern of ‘fit.’ How can external leaders come into a government system and be successful? There are numerous examples of failed attempts by outsiders that seem to outweigh individual success stories. This ‘fit’ problem has nothing to do with professional competencies or individual capabilities. It has everything to do with organizational culture.

The irony here is that the system of federal government these leaders are expecting to change is a system shaped by the culture of resistance to change, the very culture within which the new leaders must try to ‘fit.’ Only time will tell how this leadership initiative plays out.

After all, it is 2016.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How will the recruitment and selection of non-government executives benefit the federal government?
  2. From which sector would you recruit for effective change leaders on behalf of the federal government?
  3. Why do you think successful business executives have ‘bombed’ in federal government roles?


Time is the Answer


Hands holding clocks

The question is, how do we, as Human Resources professionals, make the recruitment process successful for both parties?

Time can be our best friend or our worst enemy, especially as it is one of the key components of any recruitment strategy.   In a recent LinkedIn post, Scott Case states that we need to ‘get real’ with candidates about the actual skills, culture, and work environment that are involved in any interview process.  More importantly, he identifies how quickly we expect the interview process to proceed and the pressure that is in place to make the hiring decision as soon as possible.

Click Here to Read the Article

Making sure that the interview process is transparent, however, does not just happen.  A commitment to transparency about the types of skills, culture and work environment that the organization really wants, comes from a well-planned, and well-timed end-to-end strategic recruitment process.  It is true that the candidate really does need to understand what the potential workplace is like.  After all, the employment decision is not just on the side of the employer.  The candidate too has to make the big decision whether or not this particular job, with this particular employer, is the right fit for them based on their own personal values and workplace experiences.

When we think about making the big decisions in our own lives, most of us need lots of time to think about the pros and cons of that decision. When decision-making is rushed, the end result often does not work out well for anyone involved.  When hiring decisions go wrong, the impact has significant negative ripple effects on all of the parties involved.  As Human Resources professionals, we need to ensure that the hiring decision goes the right way, by allowing everyone involved to have the time to make the decisions they need to make, based on well planned, thoughtful, and transparent processes along the way.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Thinking about your own approach to decision making, what steps do you follow to make the ‘right’ decision for you?
  2. After going through a recruitment process as a candidate, have you ever decided that the position you were interested in was not the right one for you? What happened during the process that helped you make that decision?
  3. As a Human Resources Professional, identify how much time is needed for an end-to-end successful recruitment process.
  4. Why is it important to ensure that candidates have a clear understanding of the required skills, work culture, and the environment involved for any position in any organization?

Wading Through the Hiring Pool

The Benefits of Expanding Your Recruitment Strategies.

A wise person once said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  Some say this quote is from Albert Einstein, or perhaps Mark Twain, or Ben Franklin – Click here for more on this mystery! Whoever said it is not as important as what it means. While most of us have heard this insight we fail to apply it! This holds true for HR professionals trying to recruit new employees.

A recent report from the Career Advisory Board states that 75% of Recruiters and Hiring Managers wouldn’t hire outside of their local geographical area. Additionally, the report found that only 7% of those job seekers have the right combination of skills required.

Click Here to Read the Article

If so few Hiring Managers and Recruiters think there is not enough qualified talent in their area, why are they still recruiting in their own backyards?

A majority of companies say they will not hire outside their geographical area, but they also say they cannot find the suitable candidates in their geographical area. It is this type of limited thinking that creates a significant barrier prohibiting the success of an organizations HR recruitment practices. Having a 7% success rate for finding a skilled and qualified talent pool leaves us wondering, where is the other 93%?

It should be time for HR to expand its thinking on recruitment and go beyond the narrow, shallow hiring boundaries to explore the depths of available talent pools outside one’s own familiar backyard.

Click Here to Watch a Video


Discussion Questions:

  1.  Why do you think most organizations are reluctant to hire outside their local geographical areas?
  2. What would be some of the additional costs of recruiting employees outside the organizations’ local geographical area?
  3. If you were presenting a business case to your VP of HR about sourcing employees from other locations, what strategies would you present?