The Top 5 Qualities in a Chief of Staff Recruiter
Whether you're a Founder, COO, CRO, CMO, or other C-suite executive who's searching for their ultimate "right hand", choosing the right Chief of Staff recruiter to partner with is crucial. It's never been more important to ensure that you hire the right person, so you should pay close attention to several critical qualities when making your selection. By choosing a Chief of Staff recruiting firm that delivers exceptional value, you'll find the perfect candidate tailored to your distinct needs.
Without further ado, here are the top 5 qualities to look for in a Chief of Staff recruiter that you should hone in on:
1. Industry Expertise & Experience
A recruiting firm specializing in placing Chiefs of Staff should have a deep understanding of the role and its responsibilities. Ideally, they should also be familiar with the industry you operate in and have experience placing candidates within your sector. While Chiefs of Staff have a wide remit, they look slightly different at different organizations (consider that a CoS can be placed at a university, a government institution, a non-profit foundation, a tech-startup, or even a UHNWI household!).
Armed with this familiarity, the Chief of Staff recruiter can more accurately assess candidates' skills and ensure they propose the right candidates early in the process. If the recruiter has been a Chief of Staff themselves, like at Right Hand Talent, then they have an innate understanding of the inner workings of the role, including potential pitfalls that they can help you avoid in the interview process.
In sum, when evaluating a Chief of Staff recruiter, consider the following:
Sector alignment: Has the firm successfully placed CoS candidates in organizations similar to yours? A solid history of placements in your industry indicates that they understand your needs and can find candidates with relevant skills and experience.
Specialization: Does the firm specialize in director-level+ hires for the Chief of Staff role? Most general recruiting firms might not have the same level of expertise or network in this niche area. It's essential to partner with a firm that has a deep understanding of the unique challenges and requirements associated with the CoS role and can source top-tier talent accordingly.
Industry insight: Does the recruiter have their finger on the pulse of your industry's latest trends and hurdles? If so, then they can zero in on candidates who not only have the right credentials but also the agility to thrive in your organization.
2. Personalized Service
A high-quality Chief of Staff recruiter will provide personalized service tailored to your needs as well. This doesn't involve just understanding your long-term goals as an executive or organization, but also the values that underpin and drive your personal work ethos, management style, and culture within the executive team and across the company. In our experience, this is the only way to maximize alignment between Chief of Staff candidates and your company, and should be the first step in the engagement process.
Look for a Chief of Staff recruiter that:
Invests time upfront: The best recruiters will take the time to learn about your needs before beginning the search process through very thorough discovery sessions.
Provides tailored solutions: A good recruiting firm will offer customized solutions, like tailoring their candidate search to prioritize both skills and cultural alignment, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
Communicates effectively: Open and clear communication is crucial throughout the recruitment process. Make sure the firm you choose maintains regular contact, provides updates on their progress, and is responsive to -- or even anticipates -- any questions or concerns you may have. This also applies to how effectively they communicate with candidates (which is harder to assess, but no less important).
3. A Strong Chief of Staff Recruiting Track Record
When choosing a Chief of Staff recruiting firm, it's essential to consider their track record of successful placements. A firm with a strong history of finding the right candidates for their clients demonstrates that they have the necessary expertise and resources to deliver results.
To evaluate a firm's track record, consider:
Client testimonials, candidate feedback, and case studies: Ask for all of these which showcase the recruiting firm's ability to find top talent for Chief of Staff positions. This will give you a better understanding of their approach and the outcomes they have delivered for other organizations.
Less relevant for a Chief of Staff recruiting firm:
Time-to-fill: While this is an important efficiency metric for many recruiting firms, the Chief of Staff role requires a more thoughtful and thorough search process. A quick placement may not always guarantee the best fit for such a strategic position.
Submission-to-interview ratio: Traditional recruitment firms often measure their success by how many candidates are submitted for interviews. However, for a Chief of Staff recruiting firm, it's more important to focus on the quality of candidates presented, rather than just the quantity. A lower ratio doesn't necessarily indicate poor performance if the candidates presented are exceptionally well-suited for the role. Given the uniqueness of the Chief of Staff role, and in many cases, the client is open to a broad range of candidate backgrounds, and so would rather see more variety in the early stages of the engagement process versus only those candidates who make it past an overly strict filter.
Retention rate: This is how long candidates placed by the firm typically stay with their new employers. The average is something between 12-36 months, because that's the typical tenure of a CoS. Barring unique circumstances, anything less than 12 months is not a great sign; on the other hand, tenures longer than 36 months aren't necessarily a negative.
4. Comprehensive Candidate Screening and Assessment
The best Chief of Staff recruiting firms will have a thorough candidate screening and assessment process in place. This ensures that the candidates they present to you have been vetted for their skills, experience, and fit with your organization.
Look for a recruiting firm that offers:
Comprehensive sourcing: A top recruiting firm will use a variety of sourcing strategies to find potential candidates, such as leveraging their extensive network and tapping into social media platforms like LinkedIn or even Twitter. Over 50% of Right Hand's placed candidates come from our personal network, which means our time to present candidates from the initial search kick-off can be as short as 24 hours.
In-depth interviews: The firm should conduct thorough interviews with potential candidates to assess their skills, experience, and cultural fit. This may include behavioral and situational interviews, as well as evaluating candidates' problem-solving and decision-making abilities.
Interview process advisory: Interview processes vary wildly company to company, particularly at early-stage startups. Common mistakes include overly lengthy end-to-end processes and saving case studies until the very end. A good Chief of Staff recruiter will be able to QC/QA your interview process and recommend best practices so that you remain competitive and to ensure candidates have the best experience possible.
5. Exceptional Communication and Support
Throughout the search process, it's important to have a recruiter that's responsive, transparent, and supportive. They should provide regular updates on the progress of the search, answer any questions you may have, and offer guidance on making the final hiring decision.
Sometimes, this might take the form of the recruiter constructively pushing back on things like overly strict evaluation criteria, low and narrow compensation bands, vague job descriptions, or inappropriately scoped roles (for example, admin responsibilities). If you've partnered with a Chief of Staff recruiter -- particularly on a retained search -- then you believe that they are the experts on the CoS ecosystem, and so to a large degree explicitly and implicitly value their critiques and feedback. Staying open-minded to feedback throughout the process is a good way to ensure that you get enough A-player candidates in front of you and through to the offer stage.
To sum it up, choose a recruiting firm that demonstrates:
Consistent and clear communication throughout the search process
A willingness to address any concerns or questions promptly
The courage to share constructive feedback on how the search is going right and where it could fail (or is currently failing)
Support and guidance in making the final hiring decision, including negotiating offers and onboarding the new Chief of Staff
As you embark on your search for the ideal Chief of Staff recruiting firm, keep these qualities in mind, and be prepared to invest time and effort in finding the right partner. With the right recruiting firm by your side, you can rest assured that you're setting your organization up for long-term success with a capable, dedicated, and strategic Chief of Staff.
Partnering with Right Hand as your Chief of Staff Recruiter
If you're interested in hiring a Chief of Staff, submit your information on our contact form below and we'll be in touch.