When to Hire a CEO for Your Startup? How Long Does it Take to Hire The Best CEO?

When And How To Hire a CEO For Your Startup

When you’re building your startup, there are many important positions to fill. The most important position of all is that of the Chief Executive Officer or CEO. The CEO serves as the public face of your company and oversees all aspects of operations and strategic direction. For these reasons, choosing the right CEO will involve a process that demands time, knowledge, resources, and costs.

To find and hire a CEO at the right time, you need to have a good understanding of the CEO hiring process. But, first, get the facts right about when to hire a CEO and how do CEOs get hired.

When Does Your Startup Need To Hire A CEO? 5 Key Points

When The Business Expands To Functions, Markets Beyond Current Leaders’ Expertise

When the business expands to functions, markets and geographies beyond what current leaders are knowledgeable about, then it is time to consider CEO hiring.

It’s important to understand this up front so you don’t get into a situation where you need a CEO, but can’t find one within an appropriate time frame. First off, we need to know what skills are needed in the new leadership role. Once those have been identified and determined, then it’s time to start the manpower CEO hiring process!

When Founders/Owners Cannot Invest Quality Time To Improve Operations

When founders and owners cannot invest quality time in improving operations, they should start thinking about hiring a CEO. The scenarios, challenges, and complexities a business faces at launch and the initial phase of operations differ widely from that faced by a business at a fast-growing phase. The founders or owners will have to divide responsibilities and bring someone with more knowledge and experience in managing an accelerated growth rate or transformational needs.

When Startups Plan to Accelerate Expansion and Revenue Generation

Hiring a CEO is crucial when you’re planning to accelerate expansion and revenue generation. It’s important that you take your time in finding the right person who understands your company values and vision. Once you find an excellent CEO, he or she can help streamline your operations, provide expertise in finance and business management, and lead by example.

When Owners Need To Turn Around Loss-Making Operations To Profitability

In order to turn a loss-making company into a profitable one, you need a CEO who has experience in turnaround management. It’s also important that they have experience with your industry and know how to deal with the challenges you face. You should be looking for someone who is passionate about your business, understands what needs to happen and can do it quickly.

Once you find this person, they’ll need time to understand your current situation, which will include talking with employees and getting an understanding of what’s going on.

When New Champion is Required For Next Level of Startup Growth

In order to achieve next level growth, a new champion is required. You might have started off as a startup offering services in one region or state. As you expand and figure out the next phase of growth, you might be envisioning building a nationwide presence or a global footprint. The breadth of knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience required for that new phase of growth has to be sought externally. This is when startups begin the CEO hiring process.

How Long Does It Take To Find and Hire An Excellent CEO? CEO Hiring Process!

Depending on the company and its needs, the CEO hiring process can take anywhere from eight or ten weeks to six months. Candidates who are highly sought after and well-known will likely attract more potential employers with more attractive offers than candidates who are lesser known. If you are finding someone from one specific location and with background in your business segment, it could take 2-3 months.

If your company needs a CEO with experience in managing nationwide operations and sales, you need to tap into a larger, diverse talent pool within your industry, and the entire CEO hiring process could take 3-4 months.

When CEO headhunters respond to the question “how do CEOs get hired,” they offer information about what is involved in the CEO hiring process. With the help of experienced, knowledgeable CEO headhunters, the recruitment time can be cut down by up to 50% or 60%.

Market Mapping And Best Candidate Identification

Finding a great CEO can be tricky. You may have a list of qualities you’re looking for in a candidate, but it’s important to remember that you want someone who can successfully compete and carve a niche for your company. To find this person, start by doing market mapping. With the help of top CEO headhunters, you benefit from richer, insight-driven market talent mapping.

Framing CEO Job Descriptions and Candidate Outreach Material

To find the right candidate, you need to prepare a number of documents, such as profile description, list of responsibilities, and performance expectations. You need to have a well-branded company description, history, and list of achievements. All these materials are necessary for candidate outreach.

CEO Search, Sifting, Analysis and Shortlisting

If you have been wondering “how do CEOs get hired,” you will find out that the process involves a lot more than you would ever imagine. The CEO search process involves different stages, from framing a best-match candidate identification criteria to a selection criteria. Based on this a passive and active search process begins. You need to sift through the emails, responses, and interactions before you can start identifying the best target candidates.

Interviews With Internal Panels

There are multiple interview panels to assess technical skills and knowledge, business acumen and vision, leadership abilities, and personality traits. The right interview formats and evaluation criteria will guide the various interview panels. You also need to invite the top three candidates for formal and informal meetings ans site visits to properly assess candidates from a 360-degree approach.

Interviews With External Panel To Assess Technical and Industry Knowledge

A CEO has to be someone who knows much more about the industry, business operations, and markets than any internal member. Most of the time, startups hire top consultants to include industry experts with the expertise and knowledge to assess the eligibility of prospective CEO candidates.

On-site Meetings, Consultations and Analysis to Finalize Best Candidates

You need to hire someone who can fit into your organizational culture, have deep interest in your business operations and the knowledge to improve metrics across functions. This is why companies organize full-day site visits and paid consultations sometimes to properly judge the best-fit future CEO.

Compensation Research and Insights

Consulting with CEO headhunters can make the entire CEO hiring process smooth and optimized, especially when it comes to talent outreach and candidate sourcing, and compensation research. An experienced CEO headhunter has already acquired in-depth insights into compensation based on years of research.

Negotiation and Finalizing Terms of Offer

During the negotiation process, you’ll want to make sure that you protect yourself from any possible liability. This means having a lawyer review your contract.


Now that we’ve covered some of the most important details of finding a CEO and getting them started on their journey with your business, it’s time for you to take action. If you need help with your search, our CEO headhunters are ready and waiting! Contact us today to learn how we can help you find a stellar candidate in record time.

Alliance International

Alliance International is a global company with a strong record in top leadership recruitments. We have helped companies fill top-level positions in finance, operations, IT and technology, sales, and other fields. Over 12+ years, we have acquired a strong talent base of professionals who have served as directors, vice presidents, and C-suite executives. You can rest assured of finding brilliant candidates for your startup and an optimized CEO hiring process.