How to Be Indispensable to C-Level Leadership

February 2, 2016 Neil Morrison

There’s a bit of a love-hate relationship between recruiters and hiring managers. The patterns are always played out. I hear recruiters getting frustrated with hiring managers who don’t give them sensible briefs, don’t allow enough time, and often change their minds. And I hear hiring managers getting fed up with being hassled by recruiters who then send them people that they don’t want to see and who don’t meet their expectations. Not to mention the fact that they ALWAYS take too long.

This doesn’t really change, no matter how far up the organization you go. Except that when you’re dealing with the C-suite, the value of the talent you’re trying to attract is often even higher, and the patience of the hiring manager you’re dealing with often shorter — which is never a good mix. So what can you do to create more value in your relationship with hiring managers? How do you create a more strategic alliance? And how do you make yourself indispensable to C-level leaders who need to hire?

Here are five tips that may help:

  1. Learn to be a coach.
    So recruiters and coaches are like chalk and cheese, aren’t they? Well, no — not the good ones. While I’m not suggesting that you go and formally train for the next couple of years, I am suggesting you learn to use coaching questions. When you’re looking to understand the needs — to look beyond the brief — you need to be able to unlock the mind of the leader you’re working with. Keep in mind, this won’t come easily, because they’ll be busy and prone to giving you the first possible right answer (not necessarily the best one).
  2. Think just outside the box.
    Being time-poor normally leads to one of two directions for hiring talent: 1) “Get me someone like I had before,” or 2) “Get me someone completely different to the one I had before.” Neither of these is probably right; the correct answer lies somewhere in between. Consequently, you need to go into any meeting about talent acquisition thinking just outside the box. Push the boundaries a little bit, but don’t go crazy because you’ll only waste a lot of time and get frustrated when the candidates don’t stick.
  3. Be a project ninja.
    Nobody grows up wanting to be a Gantt chart, I promise you. But if you want to add value, you need to manage the timelines to perfection. That means you need to project manage, without looking like you’re bossing people around. Have an invisible timeline and be sure to build in slack. Make the personal or executive assistant of the C-level leader your best friend for the duration of the recruitment assignment, because I tell you: You’re going to need them.
  4. Stop, look and listen.
    No, we’re not going to cross the road right now, we’ve got far too much to do. But before you send off an email or send through that candidate, consider exactly what you’re doing and the value it adds. Is it meeting a deadline, is it holding firm to a commitment — or is it activity that you could best avoid? With busy people you need to make every interaction count. Don’t waste their time and yours by detracting from the real matter at hand.
  5. Stand and deliver.
    We know that this is a results business and you’re only as good as your last hire. If you’ve got the brief right by asking good questions, you’ve pushed the thinking just outside of the box, managed the timelines like a ninja and avoided necessary wasting of time. Now, then, is the time to bring it home and deliver the goods. Follow the pursuit of excellence whenever you hire, but particularly when it’s for the C-suite. Not because they’re more important, but because they’re more influential. And we all need our friends in high places.

You won’t necessarily be able to adopt all of these tips overnight, but with a little work and a little perseverance, you have my word that they’ll change your relationships and make you the first number on the list when the big boss has a hire he or she needs to make.

Previous Article
5 Steps for Hiring Managers to Fall in Love with Recruiters
5 Steps for Hiring Managers to Fall in Love with Recruiters

Here are 5 ways to improve the recruiter and hiring manager relationship.

Next Article
Introducing CareerBuilder’s Zombie Survival Index
Introducing CareerBuilder’s Zombie Survival Index

CareerBuilder and EMSI have created the Zombie Apocalypse Index, an utterly foolproof, totally necessary an...