How to find a CEO

Written by Allan Britnell

Once upon a time it was you and only you. Then your company grew. You hired office staff, expanded the sales force and now you’d like some help in leading your company. You need to hire a CEO.

But finding a high-level executive to lead your firm to success isn’t as easy as finding a good receptionist. Ronald Charles, a managing partner with The Caldwell Partners International executive-search firm in Toronto, offers his best advice for finding the perfect CEO.

Role play

The key to finding the right person for the job is defining what the job is going to be. “It’s way beyond a job description,” says Charles. “You want to clearly articulate what the you want to CEO to do.” Are you looking for someone to head up mergers and acquisitions or someone who can help you sell off the business? Perhaps you’re considering eventually selling, and you’re looking for a CEO who can take over and grow the firm without you.

Hunt proactively

For a role this important, don’t even think about posting a want ad on a job website and wading through the results. Be proactive and look for people rather than waiting for them to come to you. Start by searching among competitors and consultants that work in your sector. Don’t limit your hunt to your industry, but do consider fit. For example, says Charles, “You don’t necessarily take someone from IBM and put them into a small family business.”

Hire help

Some SMEs use executive searches. A search firm can help you nail down job parameters and expectations, find qualified people (an established firm will have a database of resumes to call upon), and pare down the list of applicants for you to interview personally. Be aware, however, that executive search firms can be costly. Entrepreneurs on a budget should go the D.I.Y. route.

Pinpoint a pay range

To attract the right person, you need to dangle the appropriate carrot. Figure out early on what salary and bonus packages you can afford to offer; this will help focus the search.

Support your CEO

Your task doesn’t end with the signing of a contract. You need to ensure that supports are in place for a smooth transition into the workforce. Consider designating a senior-level mentor or liaison to help acclimatize the new CEO to his workplace.

Read other pointers on How To contribute to your business success!

© 2004 Allan Britnell

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com