I’m thrilled that today’s piece is based on a real client success story. As we all know, hiring continues to be a major challenge, especially for companies in the $2M-40M range. It’s hard to be competitive with bigger businesses, and top-level talent just isn’t accessible.

…or is it?

One of my clients recently realized that their senior leadership team was ready to evolve. The key hire they needed next was a strong VP of Operations.

Incidentally, my client sat in this seat for a long time—and was good at it. (Be aware that having skill in a particular area can make hiring for that seat more challenging. You’re more prone to critiquing anyone who doesn’t take the same approach you do.)

But as the owner, my client’s time was too divided to be effective as the VP of Ops. He needed a phenomenal hire in the seat, but was worried he couldn’t find anyone at the right caliber.

4 Steps to Finding Great Talent for Your Senior Leadership Team

Here’s how we approached the hire:

Step 1: Visualize what you want

The person you want to hire is out there. Where do they work? What are they doing right now?

We determined that the ideal hire in this case was already sitting in the VP of Operations seat and was likely already employed by one of the firm’s competitors. That gave us a starting point.

Step 2: Create “the list”

Who are the actual people who fulfill this description?

With the shortlist of companies in hand, we generated a list of 50-60 individuals who would potentially be phenomenal for this position.

Step 3: Build the package

Don’t expect to get top-tier talent for average compensation. Build a comp package that will appeal to a rockstar. Use your CFO or other financial experts to model out what is a stretch but still within reach. 

Remember that you should be paying dream team money—and that you may need to consider bonuses or even equity for a role if it’s senior enough.

With this information in hand, the client developed a package that would be competitive for the level of talent he was considering.

Step 4: Put yourself out there

Reach out to everyone on this list, one at a time. Do not outsource this to your HR function. If the position is high enough, you, the CEO or business owner, should reach out directly.

It’s time consuming and can make you feel vulnerable. But if you want to attract amazing people, you need to show them that you’re serious. My client contacted each name on the list, told them there was a significant opportunity for the right person, and said, “Would you like to talk?”

Big Effort = Big Results

Think this sounds crazy? This client found the hire who was exactly what they were looking for. What’s that worth to you?

The funny thing is that mid-market and enterprise-level organizations take this kind of effort for granted. But many of the clients we serve think this is too much effort or that they’ll look desperate. 

I disagree. You look like you’re invested in finding the perfect team member. You look like you care deeply about your company. Who wouldn’t want to work for someone like that?

Still worried that you can’t compete? If you’re thinking, ”I can’t get one of these people because they have an amazing job already,” may I politely suggest that you let them make that decision for themselves? 

There are many reasons people change jobs: lack of upward mobility, company culture, simply seeking something different. You can’t possibly know what might happen until you try.

A key hire can quickly catapult your company to the next level of growth. Of course, to identify the key hires, you have to understand the ideal structure for your organization. Our consulting team can help you determine what seats you have today and what seats you need in the future. Contact us for help defining—and hiring—your company’s dream team.