Answer: Searches for Chief Communications Officers have become much more labor intensive and thorough in the past 2+ years. Here are 3 factors that account for the change:
- Searches are taking much longer now. Instead of a 4-month cycle, it is more typical to have an offer accepted six months after the beginning of the project with the start date one month later.
- Assuming a candidate has an opportunity to review the job description, s/he should expect to prepare a customized resume (not the “one version fits all approach.”) A targeted, brief cover note is essential.That effort should ensure the candidate will be interviewed.
- With the advent of social media, what a candidate can learn about the hiring organization and the executives who have filled communications roles there, has increased exponentially. It is expected that a candidate will do in-depth research and be fully prepared to discuss what s/he has learned.
In the past, candidates for “C” level roles had much less information about the company, its competitive position, and past history filling communications roles. In the end, it was more of a “gut” level decision to accept an offer based on what the senior officers described as the challenges of the position. Learning about the culture and the reputation of the organization based on past performance was a challenge. That has all changed with the resources available through social media and reduced the risk for candidates—and made a decision to consider a position much more selective.
The length of time involved in filling a key position has grown due to the complexity of the decision-making process and layers of executives asked to participate either to gain their “buy in” to support the hire, or to have direct impact on the decision to hire the professional. With a search process that is protracted, candidates must be realistic about their ability to devote the necessary time to the effort. A position must be extremely attractive (potentially) for an executive to make the time needed for such an effort—and limits looking casually at several opportunities simultaneously. Either you pursue a position with enthusiasm and attention to detail or walk away. A mediocre effort is recognizable and ineffective.