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The challenges to hiring leaders in 2020 (and how to solve them)

Hiring is difficult. Hiring proven leaders is even more so. Throw in the current labor shortages, and the challenge of finding great employees may sometimes seem insurmountable. We’ve found that there are three main challenges in, and solutions to, finding and hiring best-in-class building products executives and team members:

Problem: Lack of proven talent. You want to find a building products leader who can take your business, see the strategy and vision, and put the steps in place to achieve your goals. But there simply aren’t a lot of proven building product executives out there. In fact, they make up less than 1% of 1% of the executives on LinkedIn. This inability to find leaders who understand the industry is costing you in missed opportunities and lost profit.

Solution: You need a system that can quickly identify and engage the building products executives who have the experience you want, so you can feel confident you’ve seen the best the market has to offer. Focus your efforts on the High Potential (HiPo) executive candidates who can hit the ground running and add profit to the bottom line quickly. We call this the “HiPo Hit List.” Put on your marketing, sales, and networking hat and reach out, engage, and recruit. Develop and maintain relationships with leaders you respect and who can deliver the results you need. Or find a recruiting partner to work with so you can focus on interviewing and hiring versus recruiting tasks

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Problem: Affordability. You want to hire best-in-class executives, but you’re not sure you can afford the talent you want. You also know your business is poised for growth and you need to hire strong leaders, so you wonder, “Can I afford NOT to hire the best possible executive?” How do you come up with a compensation plan that attracts leaders in the short term and keeps them long term? How do you compete with the big guys, without breaking the bank?

Solution: Simply put, best-in-class executives aren’t cheap, but few things in your business can deliver the 10x ROI in the first year that a great executive hire will. You need to create a custom compensation package that includes base, short-term, and long-term incentives, along with the work/life balance issues that really matter to your ideal hire. Be open-minded and try to determine from your candidates what they expect to be making; this will help ensure your offer is compelling. And understand that pay-for-performance and even phantom equity is very appealing to executives.

Problem: Confidence. You don’t hire executives very often, and you don’t have confidence in your ability to find and hire the talent you need. It can feel overwhelming—from not being sure if you’re being realistic to not trusting your recruiting process, you’re constantly wondering if this is going to end well. But this lack of confidence is costing you time, energy, and money.

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Solution: You need a proven process that ensures your opportunity is getting in front of the right people, that the interested candidates are thoroughly vetted, that your offer is going to be accepted, and that the hire will stick around for the long haul. Take time to sit down and map out a clear plan of action. You can use your in-house team (your marketing team, if you don’t have a recruiter) to help you develop a plan that ensures you get the right message to the right people.

Hiring, particularly proven executives, can feel overwhelming. But having a plan of action is the first step—getting clear about what you need (so you can define the role and responsibilities), incorporating realistic compensation expectations for the caliber of talent you want, and developing a game plan will help you feel more in control and build the confidence to make strong hires. Or, find an experienced partner you trust to help you move through the process.


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Rikka Brandon, a recruiter in the LBM industry since 2001, is a building products recruiter with Building Gurus. Reach her at

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