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Wonder what makes a great CEO?

As recruiters we see CEO positions regularly become available.  We interview CEOs, support them to smarten up their resumes and prepare them to win that new position.

Kate Prior has more than 25 years’ experience in recruitment and has been operating face2face Recruitment for well over a decade. During that time Kate has formulated tips on what makes a great CEO and how they can stand out in the field.

TIP #1—write a dynamite resume

‘It’s often the case that a CEO’s resume isn’t nearly as strong as their ability to perform,’ says Kate. ‘At times we ask CEOs what they would look for in resumes for potential candidates to take over their role. We ask what the resume should include to inspire them to bring in a candidate for interview. Then we test this against their own resume.  It’s amazing how, at that stage, CEOs see that their resumes aren’t as strong as they thought.’

Like candidates at other levels,  CEOs can lack confidence if they haven’t entered the recruitment stream for a while. Applying for new roles isn’t something CEOs do regularly and they can be rusty. A good recruiter will help CEOs get up to speed.

TIP #2—meet these top 10 attributes

Here are Kate’s top 10 attributes CEOs need to cover in their resumes when competing for new positions.

  1. Visionary—demonstrated ability to stay on top of industry changes and adapt in a proactive way; ability to be curious and ask masterful questions about the future.
  2. Courageous—a brave approach to a constantly changing world and difficult situations that unexpectedly pop up; the desire to zig when others are zagging.
  3. Resilient and determined—experience to sustain a business when a major change not planned for comes out of left field; willingness to continually move forward, despite setbacks or blockages.
  4. Self-aware (emotional intelligence)—ability to understand individual strengths, knowing individual limitations and then building a team that complements these; parking ego aside and adopting an ‘everyone wins’ mentality.
  5. Caring and passionate—strengths in being empathetic but firm and committed to solving problems before they go too far; an inspiring personality that encourages colleagues and staff to support the organisation’s vision, mission and values.
  6. Decisive—demonstrated ability to weigh up options and consequences and then make decisions efficiently.
  7. Risk taking—willingness to take calculated risks and be innovative in disrupting the status quo, but in a pragmatic, orderly fashion.
  8. Strong—demonstrated ability to stand ground and speak up, even if what must be said isn’t going to be popular.
  9. Navigation skills—strength in anticipating real and potential challenges/possibilities and then navigating around them.
  10. Track record of high performance—strong examples of excellent performance with excellent results.

‘These attributes must also be clear in a CEO’s mind so they can inject them into the conversation during the interview,’ says Kate.

TIP#3—be choosy with your recruitment company

When selecting a recruitment company, Kate says CEOs should choose one that:

  1. is experienced in dealing with high-level job seekers
  2. understands CEO roles and can provide support in refining resumes so they’re contemporary
  3. has experienced senior consultants who can share insights on what the employer is seeking from a new CEO
  4. will openly discuss positive and negatives aspects of the role and organisation
  5. will put in major effort and support and provide honest feedback.

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