Top executives have a range of employment options and unlike non-executives, often aren’t limited to a single industry. When recruiting top executives, it’s important to remember this. An executive candidate is assessing your organization as much as you may be evaluating them.

To draw in potential executives, you need to show how your company leadership roles are not only better than the competition’s but better than leadership roles in other industries.

Top business leaders will evaluate each opportunity based on their potential to advance their career. Therefore, a company must be capable of showing essential career benefits that speak to top business leaders.

Below are just a few things top executives are looking to get out of their career.

A Personal Connection

Referrals are the best way to fill any position, for both the employer and the job seeker. Executive candidates are more likely to accept a job offer if they have a personal connection to an organization.

If you have an open executive position to fill, your current executives should call contact they trust and respect, as executives often have connections to other executives. Ask your executives for the names of top prospects.

Well-Defined Roles

Experienced executives understand the value of clarity in a position, and they don’t want to waste their time in a chaotic role. A major red flag for top candidates is to hear the position described differently by people at an organization.

An executive search should begin with deep group discussions and agreements about what your business truly needs in a new exec. Also, spell out the metrics of success in the job. These criteria should speak to the qualities of ideal candidates and inform interview questions.

Personal Meaning

Executives are like everybody else. They have passions and personal motivations that drive their career choices. If your open position doesn’t speak to a candidate’s motivations, you will have a hard time appealing to them.

After contact with candidates, your team should get to know them and learn what drives them. Some executives are looking for more pay, while others are driven by potential impact or the desire to lead other high performers.

A word of warning: If you flat-out ask a candidate what motivates them, you will probably get a superficial answer. One way to find out what truly drives a candidate is to ask them, “What are your greatest career accomplishments?”


Becoming an executive (usually) requires a lot of hard work, and people who are willing to put in the work expect to be respected for it—those looking to recruit need to speak to this expectation by providing a positive candidate experience.

Show how much your business is committed to hiring them. Ensure they get significant “face time” with your top leadership. Show top candidates you truly want to know them as people. Listen carefully and be prepared to meet their needs during the recruitment process.

We Can Help Your Company Find Its Next Executive

At ZDA, we specialize in connecting our clients to top executive candidates. Please contact us today to find out how we can help your company find its next great leader.