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The 6 Reasons Why Top-Performing Executive/Sr. HR Leaders Will Never Join Your Organization, & The 5 Things You Can Do About It to Ensure That They Do!

by Devin Blanks | March 5, 2018

Believe it or not…some companies are STILL trying to hire top HR Leadership like it’s 1999, sitting back and waiting for best-in-class leadership talent to fall into their lap.  It simply doesn’t work.  Working smarter and adapting to a much more actionable proactive vs. reactive executive talent acquisition model allows your company to grow much more effectively overall.

Today’s businesses are reshaping and scaling at the record speed of NOW, and the competitive landscape of acquiring the market’s top-performing Executive/Sr. HR Leaders to progressively and strategically enhance your organization’s culture and effectiveness has never been greater.

The top HR leadership impact players currently have numerous options right now.  Here’s why you won’t acquire them, and also what you can do to turn that around and instantly attract them. 


Grab a coffee and feel fortunate…because this is really going to save you a LOT of wasted time and headaches.

1. The Numbers Simply Aren’t There

As of this very moment, unemployment stands at a 17-year low of 4.1%, which is well below the natural rate of 5%.  When unemployment is less than the natural rate, businesses can’t find the talent they require to continue operating at full effectiveness.  Adding to that, the overall number of unemployed also contains 451,000 discouraged workers who have given up looking for work but would take a job if it were offered.

This is absolutely not a good recipe for finding your next CHRO, Chief People Officer, VP of HR, etc.

B o t t o m  L i n e: This is a highly competitive HR Leadership talent market where the numbers won’t work for you.


2. You’re looking In the Wrong Place

You may be deep sea fishing in a very shallow pool.  The largest portion of HR’s high impact leaders are currently knocking the cover off the ball elsewhere, advancing the organizational development and effectiveness at another companynot sitting on job boards.

Yes, I know this is somewhat part of point #1 but it categorically calls for its own mention because leadership talent at that level of comprehensive strategic aptitude are constantly in demand and are not typically finding themselves in need of a “change”.

And, simply relying on the same active job board resumes that every other company is receiving and looking through is definitely not an advisable move if looking to target essential leadership that will be affecting the culture of your organization.

B o t t o m  L i n e: You simply cannot wait and expect the HR industry’s impact players to stumble upon or act on your newly posted job description when most of them either aren’t looking for employment at all, or they are being recruited directly out of their current companies.


3. Timeframe of Hiring Process

Time-to-hire is lengthening.  In a June 2015 report, “Why is Hiring Taking Longer?” Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor, found that job interview processes are getting much longer, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Corralling chief leadership talent through an exhaustive barrage of several interview callbacks to meet with numerous different decision-makers is almost a surefire way to disinterest a serious contender.

Another top main reason for a long process is spending time on applicants and candidates who are absolutely not a fit for your organization, and therefore lengthening the timeframe for a candidate that could potentially be the right one.  Two main contributors to this are;

  • sourcing through active job boards applicants for a top-level Executive/Sr. HR Leadership role
  • using a recruiting service unfit to appropriately consult at this level or effectively engage with leadership talent…which brings me to reason # 4.

B o t t o m  L i n e: You will most certainly lose the attention of top-tier leadership talent in an overly lengthy process where they are simply waiting and not being effectively engaged.


4. Resumes…Resumes…Resumes!  Yeesh!

King or Queen of the mountain…of resumes.  Now you’re really suffering.  We’ve already covered what sifting (and let’s be honest…barely skimming) through loads of job board resumes (and let’s be honest again…not even ALL of the resumes) for an Executive/Sr. HR Leader gets you lackluster results.  

And now on top of that you’ve likely had some generalist recruiter offering you more of the exact same source of job board resumes (no real “recruiting”) through a service that turns out to be simply transactional at best.  “Just take a really close look at the caliber of people they’re submitting to you.  Are they truly top-performing impact leadership…or more of what you could have found on your own?  Exactly.”

Furthermore, some companies then double-down on this bad idea and will then employ several agencies all at one time (typically in a contingency search) where they’ll now all compete in a sort of “Thunderdome” battle to just rush to throw whatever they’ve got against the wall to see what sticks.  This ensures you, the “client” absolutely no real commitment, no real consultation, no actual process, and no solid results.

B o t t o m  L i n e: Your company’s BEST choice for your newly open Executive/Sr. HR Leadership role is most likely not in that pile o’ resumes.

SIDE NOTE: As for using an agency, it’s not that contingency search doesn’t have its place…but that’s a non-confidential, non-exclusive, highly limited service model intrinsically designed for far less urgent and less senior mid-upper management support roles with a much deeper talent pool, and typically coming in from several sources, therefore not demanding much commitment from either side.  This is most certainly not adequate for a Chief/Sr. HR Leadership search.


5. Wavering Candidates

This is common, and actually happens far too often.  An offer goes out only to be declined in the end due to the candidate working several opportunities, weighing their options, and eventually going with another company.  Sound familiar?

Right now, Executive/Sr. HR Leadership talent is in incredibly high demand like never before, and they’re tightly focused on how much they have riding on getting “just the right position”, and therefore won’t always openly disclose other hiring processes they may currently be involved in until they decline your offer.

Again…sound familiar?  I hear that one from companies on countless occasions, and in the end, this turns out to be a massive waste of your company’s time and resources with nothing to show for it as you start the exact same process all over again.

B o t t o m  L i n e: Candidates (especially applicants) who are running their own searches are trying to have multiple opportunities in front of them, and it can typically be very difficult to navigate the waters of it all.  Declining your offer isn’t malicious, most of them simply lay it all out and go with what feels like the “better offer”…or with what was presented much more effectively.


6. Quality MATCH vs. “Qualified” Resume

Congrats, you’ve hired the absolute best person for the position…right?  Probably not…but let’s take a look.

  • Did you actively and effectively position your organization to attract the best and brightest Executive HR Leaders in the top HR networks and communities (NOT simply posting on their job boards)?
  • Did you identify and target HR’s top-tier performance leaders who are climate competent in your company’s specific arena?
  • Were you able to connect directly with the MOST LIKELY contenders in this increasingly tough competitive landscape regardless of them being employed elsewhere?
  • Or…was it simply a posted job description on a few sites, with a hope and a prayer?

I ask because time and again numerous companies go hunting for HR’s apex leaders simply armed only with job descriptions that are looking for;

  • “General knowledge in all aspects of HR”
  • HR leadership background
  • 10 to 15 years of experience
  • “…Hit the ground running”
  • ”…Great presentation and communication skills
  • Bachelor’s degree, Master’s preferred, etc. (you know the rest of the template)

I must tell you, when you’re looking for Chief/Sr. HR Leaders, “qualified” shouldn’t be enough as these are actually the minimum requirements expected at this level.  Pre-qualification is one thing, however this should not be the beacon benchmark wherein which you now usher this individual through your entire process for the Lead HR role.

TIP:  Having strategic, comprehensive front-end efficiencies in place that are proactive vs. reactive are KEY to ensuring that your short list of candidate considerations are best-in-class…not just “qualified”.

At this level, a misstep or missed steps get you a bad hire (if at all)…not a match.  And, the overall time, resources, and financial costs of replacing a bad leadership hire down the road can be tremendous, and the effects are felt throughout the company.

B o t t o m  L i n e: The long-term hire you were looking to have ends up being shorter.  A LOT shorter.  In this situation the Chief/Sr. HR Leader you brought on to progressively spearhead and champion your organization’s employee experience will eventually;

  • vacate that role to find a much more suitable fit much sooner than you think.
  • be terminated, and you start the whole process all over again…further behind.
  • (and by far the MOST common) you continue to ride it out, retraining and waiting as your organization becomes less efficient…day by day.
T H E    T A K E A W A Y

I know quite well that this all seems like a LOT…and it is, as well it should be.  The process of bringing on a Chief/Sr. Leader of any kind should never mirror that of a mid-management or junior role.

This is a crucial leadership role vital in shaping your company’s overall culture, and such a critical position in your growing organization is far too important to be handed over to whomever may simply be the best person applying for it.

You can completely avoid every single one of these overly common time-wasting roadblocks!  Although this is a definite executive hiring reality for many companies at this very moment, it definitely does not have to be YOUR organization’s reality.  Get ready for the 2nd half in this series – Part 2’s
Simply drop us your info below to get on our ‘DBSG Newsletter’ mailing list and receive Part 2!
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