Our firm occasionally conducts candidate searches for our
clients. One of our clients engaged our firm to search
for an executive-level position.
Over a 9 month period, the client made 3 attempts to
recruit someone on its own, but with no success.
In meeting with the client, the CEO complained how
difficult it is to hire A-Players. The CEO mentioned that
the 3rd attempt at recruiting someone delivered two good
candidates but both people rejected the offers.
As we researched the position in preparing for the search,
we discovered a few potential reasons that the position
may not be attracting A-Players.
Our findings included the following:
#1 The compensation for the position was 25% below the
market in general and 50% below what A-Players receive.
#2 The company’s employee benefits package and executive
perquisites were not competitive with the industry or the
#3 The responsibilities of the position consisted of
activities that would be assigned to a mid-level manager,
not an executive.
#4 The executive-level responsibilities that would
normally be assigned to the position, the CEO actually
In essence, the CEO wanted to hire an A-Player without
putting up the ante that is required to “get in the game.”
HR POINTER: Real A-Players want the money, benefits,
autonomy, and responsibilities that confirm their A-Level
With our help, the CEO redefined the compensation,
benefits, and responsibilities of the position. We then
re-approached the two candidates that rejected the
opportunity and successfully hired one of them.
We lost the search but the client got an A-Player.
If you truly want to hire A-Players, you need to ensure
that your organization can provide the advantages that
will attract and retain such high level individuals.