How to Turn Your CEO Into a Talent Magnet

September 19, 2017

If you got it, flaunt it—and if you’re lucky enough to have an inspiring CEO, the best thing your recruiting team can do is show them off. A great CEO can bolster your employer brand and attract top talent.

Your CEO isn’t just the Chief Executive Officer: they’re also your company’s mascot, head cheerleader, and the face of your employer brand.

For a little inspiration, let’s take a look at how companies leverage their CEO’s bully pulpit to attract the best talent. And if you’re a small to medium-sized business, don’t worry: these lessons apply to leaders big and small.

It’s really all about making your head honcho more visible and approachable—making their leadership into a magnet.

Enterprise’s Pam Nicholson rose through the ranks to the highest level, an aspirational example for candidates

Named the highest-rated female CEO by a recent report, Pam Nicholson of Enterprise wasn’t brought into the car rental company as an outsider—she’s worked her way up for 36 years. After going into a management training program after college, Pam has risen up the corporate ladder rung-by-rung, going from regional VP to COO to CEO.

One of the biggest reasons employees leave their current jobs is to advance their career path, according to recent studies. A home-grown CEO testifies to the fact that your company encourages growth, promotes from within, and rewards hard work.

If your CEO rose to that position thanks to a long tenure with the company—like Pam, or Walmart’s Doug McMillon—don’t be shy about playing that up to candidates. Even a quick mention during your interview or initial engagements can make a lasting impression and impact a candidate’s decision.  

If your CEO (or another C-level exec) is passionate about a cause, take pride in it to elevate your employer brand

Sheryl Sandberg may not be a CEO per se, but as COO of Facebook she is one of their most visible executives. She’s also one of the most vocal advocates for women in the workplace. Author of the best-selling Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, she’s also an inspiring example to other women in the tech space. As one Facebook employee puts it on Quora, “To me, she is the greatest example I have met of what women breaking through gender barriers in the C-suite ought to be.”

Her advocacy reflects well on Facebook as a place to work: Sheryl’s passion doubtlessly attracts tons of applicants who want to be part of a company with such a committed, purpose-driven leader. 52% of job seekers want to work for a company whose mission and vision reflects their own values—so if your C-suite execs care about a cause, don’t be shy about showing that side to candidates. A purpose-driven culture can attract quality candidates and be a difference maker once you’ve made your offer.

If your CEO exemplifies the company culture on social media, amplify their posts to show candidates your authenticity

With more than 5.6 million followers, Jeff Weiner is one of the most followed people on LinkedIn—which is only fitting, since he’s the company's CEO. But he’s also just a great example of a CEO authentically interacting with employees on social media. If you haven’t already, check out Jeff’s four tips for engaging on social media, and you’ll see that he practices what he preaches.

Yes, almost all CEOs maintain social media accounts, but some can be considered just mouthpieces for the marketing department. Of course, the CEO should share things about the company they run, but it’s just as important to come across as a real person: i.e., make sure they’re doing the writing and posting themselves.

Here’s a great example of Jeff’s authenticity in action:

Of course, you can’t compel your boss (or your boss’s boss) to develop a robust social media presence if they’re reluctant, but it’s definitely a conversation worth having. And if your CEO is already sharing his or her authentic voice via social media, your talent acquisition team can amplify those posts wherever possible to help with recruiting.

Again, this goes back to giving candidates the sense that they can really get to know their potential employer and its leadership personally before even interviewing. An effective, highly visible CEO adds a halo effect that reflects well on your entire company’s employer brand and makes it easier to entice quality candidates.

Whether your CEO is passionate about a purpose, shows their personality online, or maybe serves as an inspirational rags-to-riches story, it’s your job as a recruiter to milk that for all it’s worth. (And if they’re less than inspirational, try your best to nudge them in the right direction … without pushing too hard, of course.) Sing their praises, amplify their posts, and share their story—your CEO might not have time to meet every candidate, but they can still have a profound effect on recruiting.

*Photo of Pam Nicholson from Enterprise

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