They were an 8000+ person firm in multiple locations, multiple states, who by natural cyclical attrition hired 200+ people a year. Their mechanism was simple – put a print ad (yes print! they hadn’t made a full commitment to the 21st century) and online ads in the right places and wait for the calls, emails and resumes to flow. And flow they did – like a tsunami, washing away even the most seasoned HR people.
This was a first time CIO hire, and the resumes they got were unlike anything they had ever seen (for non IT-specialist recruiters). The jargon and buzzwords might just as well have been in Sanskrit. The type of experience common to high-level applicants was completely beyond the realm of an HR team who had never had a hire at this level. And the types of questions the internal recruiters were asked by the few candidates they responded to focused on operational issues they knew nothing about, and perk and benefit levels they had never dealt with.
When an experienced agency is engaged by a company hiring a first ever CIO, the initial screening process around some of the most elementary parameters of any hire can be highly charged. The well-meaning staffing specialist has been given a mantra to hire for $X, which more often than not doesn’t reflect on all the components of compensation, or even the reality of the current market place in their geography. And when they are apprised of national trends (currently $80,000 to just under $300,000, highly dependent on geography), sticker shock doesn’t begin to cover the reaction. In many instances the client shoots the messenger, sometimes multiple messengers, until they see the light.
The first step in hiring a C-level technology executive is identifying the function you need to fill and the specific pain you need to relieve. The CIO is a strategist who aligns business needs with the technology organization. Often the CIO is the visionary who architects and designs the multi-year plan for the IT organization. In smaller organizations there is often only one person in the C-space and the titles of CIO/CTO are interchangeable.
- What are the most pressing initiatives on the table?
- What are the most pressing initiatives that need to be addressed next?
- Is there a business/technology roadmap in place?
- How many people in the IT organization?
- How many staff, how many project?
- How many direct reports and what are their functions?
- Is there internal development?
- Are any services or functions outsourced?
- What is the current IT budget?
- Years at this level
- Hard technical skills
- Relevant experience
- Years of management experience
- Business domain experience
- Soft skills
Compensation & Benefits
- Salary range
- Bonus range
- 401K/403b? %age match, vesting policy
- Stock options
- Relocation available?
- Are H1B visa candidates acceptable?
- Vacation and PTO
- Health /vision/dental benefits and employee co-pay
- Company holidays
- How many rounds
- How many people
- Which people, functions, titles
- Can early round interviews be done by phone or teleconference?
- Fly-in late round candidates?
Questions You Should Ask
- Why are you looking for a job?
- Size of present company
- Size of IT
- # of direct reports
- Current IT budget
- What is the corporate culture?
- Time frame to start a new job
- Current compensation/benefits/perqs
- Any vacations planned?
- Are you at the offer stage at any other opportunities?
Questions you should be prepared to answer
- Why is this position open?
- Do you anticipate additional hiring or downsizing?
- Do I get to choose who I want from the existing staff
- Can I bring in my own people?
- What is the corporate culture?
- What is your time frame for decision making?
While some of the categories are no-brainers and apply to any hire, some are specific to the C-space, and you need to be able to address these issues before you launch your marketing campaign. After these questions and issues have been clarified, a lot of thought must be given to who will be the first round screener. Be mindful that other responsibilities may need to be reassigned or re-prioritized because this is a very time-consuming and exacting process.
When you’re ready to start your CIO search, contact us!