ACEVO Guest Blog – The Chief Executive’s role in recruitment

Simon Callaghan - Fundraising Appointments, Peridot Partners
Simon Callaghan – Fundraising Appointments, Peridot Partners

Recruitment is fraught with challenges and is rarely a perfect process. Assuming that you get the right people to apply, an interview situation will not always give robust insight into their style, competencies, resilience and reliability.  When recruiting at a senior level these risks are heightened and getting it wrong is potentially very damaging.

The Chief Executive of a charity must have a positive influence on recruiting, both to the Board of Trustees and important staff roles, so here are some hints and tips to help you get it right.

Firstly, choose your approach. Recruitment companies may not always be seen as necessary, and you may feel that you have a proposition that when advertised / or networked through your contacts will attract a good field on candidates.  If you decide not to use a recruitment partner make sure that you are using advertising and digital media appropriately to ensure that you reach the best prospective candidates and ensure that your proposition to candidates is attractive, engaging and able to reach people who are not actively job seeking.  Did you know that 9/10 potential candidates for most roles are not actively looking for a new job but would consider a proposition put to them?

On the other hand if you do opt to partner with a recruitment specialist, do your research.  Invite some consultants in to discuss the vacancy and listen to both their approach and track record. Test them.  Find the one that fits closest with your culture and can accommodate budgetary constraints where possible. Ask for references from your peers.  It is not about the brand they work for, it is about the consultant you work with – will they be proactive and work hard for you, do they understand your organisation and share your values?

Next, gain commitment of other stakeholders. From a recruiter’s perspective, our most challenging clients are the ones who don’t understand how important it is to engage other decision makers from the very beginning.  Lock down dates and ensure that all people involved in candidate assessment have the opportunity to share their views on the role before the process begins and during the briefing process with recruitment consultants.  Introducing people at a late stage of the process, without being aligned and informed appropriately to the brief and process so far creates a significant risk and the potential for disruption.  A solid briefing process will allow your HR team or recruitment specialist to understand the context of the role but it will also, if necessary, re-align decision makers at the start of a process, thus avoiding issues down the line.

Be honest. Candidates will appreciate it and it will make your role stand out in what is increasingly a highly competitive job market for employers.  Highlight some of the challenges you have faced, or why you need the expertise of this person in your organisation. The right people are attracted by that. Personalise the recruitment experience by including a welcome letter from you along with your picture with the information you send.  Speaking directly to candidates about the role and opportunity brings it all to life and adds personality to your organisation.

You’re ready to go with the process, but don’t forget to map out timescales for the recruitment. This is not just a closing date, but also the interviews. The diaries of senior stakeholders are notoriously difficult to pin down, so do it at the very beginning to avoid issues.  This applies to candidates as well. This is a competitive marketplace and you’re likely to be dealing with senior people already in jobs or, in the case of Trustees applying for a voluntary role, often challenging diaries.  Mapping out timescales and process (who is on the interview panel, is there a presentation, will candidates meet members of the team etc) reduces the risk of you losing the best applicants during a process and increases engagement.

Finally, make yourself available. I appreciate the diary of a Chief Executive is busy, but ensure you engage with the process throughout. Agree to an informal conversation with suitable and interested candidates when they are considering whether to apply.  It may be that they’re going for other jobs at the same time as yours.  Taking just twenty minutes out to have an informal chat can be enough to sway them towards you.  If you are working alone, without the support of a recruitment partner you can bet that they are working hard to sell the benefit of the organisations they represent, which can also mean selling against yours!  Go the extra mile to level the playing field.

Peridot Partners are ACEVO’s strategic partner. We offer executive and Trustee recruitment and have a particular specialism in recruiting high-level fundraisers.

For more information about:

Executive recruitment contact Philippa Fabry on 07772 902071 or

Fundraiser recruitment contact Simon Callaghan on 07702 678658 or

Trustee recruitment / board development services contact Grant Taylor on 07958 690184 or

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