In the current economy, with a relatively new recruiting paradigm, any executive recruiting project boils down to three key steps: Figuring out what types of knowledge and personal qualities are most important for the role; figuring out how to find people with that knowledge and those qualities; and figuring out how to hire the person who best matches your needs.


Figuring out what you’re looking for — that’s easy enough, right?

Maybe. But maybe not.

In today’s knowledge economy, knowing what you’re after — what’s important — means looking beyond job titles and compensation tables. You have to be able to evaluate the real value of someone’s contribution. To do this, you must thoroughly understand

  • What contribution you want
  • How you’ll know when you find it

Especially for senior positions, companies rarely look to tick a box on a standard employee recruitment form. Instead, they’re looking for something more nebulous — and more important. They’re looking for someone who can deliver a quality rather than a quantity — a quality that creates value for the company.

Of course, key contributions and qualities may be difficult to identify. To help with this, the following table lists common contributions, or value requirements, and the qualities that drive them.

Perry-Martel: New Value Table

As you can see, what you’re looking for goes beyond skill sets and résumés. You want someone whose qualities will drive the contribution you seek. When you share a vision, you ensure a successful fit.


In the knowledge economy, companies leverage smart ideas to generate huge value. Not surprisingly, the people who think up those ideas are more valuable than ever before. They almost certainly already have jobs — good jobs — and they’re not looking for new ones.

The talent you’re after is busy winning. They’re not surfing job boards, registering with employment agencies, or updating their LinkedIn profiles. The best of the best aren’t likely to respond to — or even see — your job ads. So, how do you find someone who isn’t raising her hand saying, “Here I am”?

Employee surveys reveal that most people don’t particularly like moving to a new organization. They’d rather change jobs within a company than leave the company altogether. This is especially true for people who believe they already work for and with the best.


In the knowledge economy, money is a secondary driver. Sure, it’s important, but when you reach a certain baseline, it’s not that big of a deal. Instead, knowledge workers are driven by autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Take companies like Facebook, Google, and Tesla. The people who work at these companies aren’t driven by money; they want to change the world. That’s their purpose. Or consider Google. When Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded that company to life in 1998, they didn’t do it to cash in. They did it to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. (In fact, that’s the company’s stated mission.) And of course, there’s Apple. It wasn’t merely money that drove Steve Jobs to build the world’s most valuable company and transform seven industries — personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing — along the way. It was his obsession with simplicity.

Not surprisingly, top talent flock to the aforementioned companies. Indeed, these companies (and a select few others) offer tremendous cachet. People who work for them do so proudly.

Although it’s true that you need to pay an appropriate wage to draw top talent, that’s just the price of admission. You also have to foster a work environment that gives them what they really want: the freedom to lead, the ability to succeed, and the opportunity to work toward something they care about. In addition, you must conduct your executive recruiting project using only proven methods, including the following:

  • Micro-targeting the competition’s executives
  • Treating each potential prospect as an individual by providing a customized approach tailored to his needs
  • Connecting with candidates on both a logical and an emotional level
  • Speaking to the candidate’s values (Hint: It’s not always about money!)
  • Delivering a value proposition — similar to an elevator pitch — that focuses on the candidate’s needs, not yours

Companies position themselves with top talent by making both a logical and an emotional connection.

As Skip Freeman, author of Headhunter Hiring Secrets 2.0, says, “Top talent is scarce — and it’s likely to stay that way. That means smart organizations do everything they can to retain their key people. If you’re going to persuade people to take on new opportunities, you’ll need to make sure that the opportunities you’re presenting are good ones . . . and woo them like they’ve never been wooed before!”