Preparing CEOs of Small and Mid-Sized Organizations to Close the Best Candidates


For the largest organizations, closing top candidates and bringing leading talent onboard are concerns the CEO rarely addresses in a hands-on capacity (except perhaps for when filling a vacant C-level position). For the SMB or startup on the other hand, the dynamic is dramatically different. Mid-sized companies frequently operate with far fewer levels of hierarchy and the CEO is inherently more involved in processes such as talent acquisition. When there is the opportunity to bring a truly accomplished and talented candidate to the team – especially in competitive skill sets – having the job offer issue from the CEO’s office carries a certain weight that is not comparable to an offer from any old hiring manager. Here’s some information culled from a LinkedIn post by successful venture capitalist and “influencer,” Hunter Walk of Homebrew Venture Capital, on what a CEO needs to know about closing a job candidate.

In his post, Walk stresses that the CEO shouldn’t feel awkward about making the offer on his or her own. Of course, leaning on the experts (say from their workforce management solution provider for instance) is never a bad idea.  But, the CEO should understand the value of making the offer directly. Being able to directly convey the contours of the opportunity, where next phase growth is expected to come from, and what the needs and expectations are is empowering to the candidate and makes them feel like a stakeholder from the start.

Walk also notes that in cases where a desirable candidate may have other offers or be otherwise difficult to land, that it isn’t a sign of weakness to bring in a professional from the workforce management organization. Doing so exhibits that the leadership of your organization is wise enough to leverage the expertise it has on its bench to the candidate. Good candidates want to know they’ll be joining a progressive organization that allows its talent to do whatever it is they do best.

As experts at sourcing talent, nextSource agents also do legwork on their end to prepare top candidates for offers that may be issued by CEOs of small to mid-sized operations. Top candidates often achieve their experience and expertise by working among the largest organizations in their field of choice, so making the decision to shift from a role in a $3 billion dollar company to a $150 million one may require some managing of expectations in a cultural sense.

The candidate may have worked for a Fortune 100 company for years and never once spoken directly to the CEO. So preparing them to accept an offer issued directly by the CEO of an SMB means ensuring several critical points are clear. Prepare a candidate for the offer by emphasizing that their decision to join an SMB should not simply be all about the potential upside, or what Walk refers to as “joining because you want a lottery ticket”. Instead, prompt the candidate to consider if they’re interested because they feel their contribution to the enterprise would be well-received and productive. This way, their expectations and the expectation of the CEO will be aligned well before the offer is tendered.

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