You may have an untapped powerhouse of hiring talent within your organization: your CEO. The pandemic upended how businesses recruit, attract, and retain talent. During a time where millions are unemployed, yet jobs remain unfilled, businesses must consider revamping strategies to grow the workforce. Although hiring is on the rise, the opening of a position does not guarantee candidates will apply for or land one, let alone remain in that role if hired.
Whether a company operates as a hybrid or fully remote work environment in the post-pandemic world, talent acquisition will continue to face ongoing hiring challenges. Across industries, hiring is a cumbersome process for both the candidate and employer. Hours of prospects’ days are devoted to updating résumés, drafting cover letters and extensively researching companies to nail each interview. Tech positions alone take an average of 45 days to recruit talent, which leaves candidates anxiously waiting for an offer letter while companies scramble to conduct several rounds of interviews before making a final decision. Despite all the dedicated time and hard work on both sides, potential applicants still drop out due to the frustrating process.
People Operations leaders are left wondering, “How can we improve the hiring process to boost talent?” The answer could lie in their own C-suite.
Why Every CEO Should Stay Close to the Hiring Process
While networking on LinkedIn and perfecting the Zoom interview experience is critical to establishing a seamless, effective hiring process, HR leaders must look outside the box to engage prospects. Looking at the C-suite, CEOs pull a lot of weight at a company, serving as a role model for many to follow in their footsteps and reflect their behavior. If this shadow mentality starts at the very moment a candidate walks through the door (or logs onto Zoom, for that matter), it’s likely to carry through their time at the company.
CEOs hold a critical position, where they know the ins and outs of the company culture, initiatives, teamwork, and, most importantly, overall vision and mission. When top executives are immersed in every level of hiring, it reveals to candidates a transparent, hands-on culture with leadership involvement in all aspects of the business, thus enticing prospects to remain engaged and attracted throughout the hiring process.
Weaving CEO involvement into various points of the talent acquisition process not only motivates the candidate, but also reveals to current employees that their leaders are present. It’s important for current staff members to feel confident that the leadership team has the company’s and employees’ best interest when expanding talent, which encourages hard work. When CEOs have a hand in the recruitment process, it benefits not only potential future employees, but company culture as a whole.
Exhibit the Company’s Vision and Mission
Having leaders who not only believe in but also actively practice the company’s vision and mission will help a prospect obtain a clear understanding of overall business goals, motivating and energizing them to get involved during the hiring process.
However, CEO involvement is much more than popping into the interview to say “hi” and check the box marked “show face.” Successful executive leadership reveals true passion and unique strategies that help determine whether prospects are fully on board with the company’s mission. By blending into the talent acquisition process, a CEO can gauge if the candidate is committed to helping the company reach its goals, ensuring that the company will get the best ROI for the business’s long-term success.
To continue exhibiting the company’s vision and mission after a candidate is hired, it’s important to prioritize a proper, personalized, immersive onboarding experience where the CEO plays a role in training and development. Onboarding programs are essential to setting the tone for new-hire success and weaving them into the larger picture (team structure, collaboration, learning, and development). When CEOs remain present in post-hire initiatives, it reinforces the engagement and support they shared during the hiring process. Consistently exposing new hires to commitment to the company’s vision and mission is key for establishing the company culture. CEO involvement in onboarding not only positively impacts the candidate, but the entire workforce and company bottom line.
Create Long-term Benefits for Entire Company
After a new hire has had time to adjust, the CEO should check in to get a sense for progress, commitment, and behavior that exhibits the employee’s dedication to the company’s vision, mission, values, culture, and goals. A review within the first 90 days, either individually or in small, organized groups, will reveal where the new hire is on their onboarding journey, as well as provide an opportunity for candid feedback on the hiring process. It’s important for the CEO to be up-front about welcoming positive, constructive feedback on the overall onboarding process, and to invite suggestions to improve the employee experience.
When new hires have a personable experience with the CEO throughout the hiring and onboarding process, it establishes that the CEO is present and accessible not just for the new employee but for the entire company, and reinforces for current employees that their leader considers involvement in talent acquisition a worthy endeavor.
Even well beyond onboarding, it’s critical for leaders and CEOs to persistently provide the kind of encouragement that gets employees excited and makes work a rewarding experience. Many businesses benefit from utilizing external resources to support this process, such as integrating objective and key results (OKRs), to encourage transparency and show employees how their individual work contributes to the larger company vision and mission. Seeing the “supply chain” of how their day-to-day work reaches business goals provides validation and creates enthusiasm.
In the post-pandemic world, revamping hiring strategies and enhancing talent acquisition are easier said than done. Transparency and involvement at the CEO level is key to a successful workplace and a strong workforce. From accommodating new preferences and addressing new challenges in the early stages of hiring to the exciting moment of sharing (or receiving) an offer letter, the CEO plays a bigger role than one may think. But the benefits reach far beyond just hiring. CEO involvement helps companies choose the perfect candidate by planting the company’s overall goals in the new hire’s mind from the start, ensuring long-term benefits for the business and workforce.
Rebecca Clements is the SVP of People and Culture at Ally.io. She leads the People Operations teams and is responsible for all aspects of human resources, talent management and acquisition, and the evolution of Ally’s culture. Rebecca has 20+ years of experience leading People Operations teams and building strong cultures within technology start-ups. She is passionate about building cultures and people programs that foster growth within the business and for people individually. Rebecca has held leadership roles at Getty Images, Varolli, and most recently at Moz, where she was chief people officer.