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Attracting High Performers to New Career Opportunities

Attracting High Performers to New Career Opportunities

Like most U.S. business sectors, the Architecture, Engineering, Construction (A/E/C), facilities management, and real estate development industries are grappling with a limited pool of talent at all levels. While merely identifying high-performing professionals can be challenging, attracting them to new opportunities can prove to be even more of a feat. Understanding how these individuals evaluate prospective career opportunities is the first step in developing strategic and successful recruitment processes.

Specializing in executive search for the aforementioned markets since 1992, Helbling & Associates conducts assignments to identify, attract, and secure mid- to upper-level management executives. President Tom Helbling says, “Most of the organizations we represent are progressive in their talent acquisition strategies, and they understand how difficult it can be to find and attract talent that can thrive within their structures and corporate cultures. What they sometimes do not understand is how to attract these candidates to their organizations.  Today’s candidates are savvy and the ones who are exceptional at what they do aren’t actively looking for new opportunities. To capture their attention, a prospective organization and role have to be impressive. If a candidate is willing to have a conversation and you think they may be a great candidate, you have to be ready to start attracting them at that very moment and maintain the momentum throughout the recruitment process.”

“Since candidates have their own individual career motivations and personal situations that can come into play, they must be attracted in different ways. Having said that, professionals do share similarities in how they evaluate new career opportunities,” says Helbling. Outlined below are the common factors that candidates consider when presented with new career opportunities. Addressing each of these aspects thoroughly during recruitment and differentiating your organization’s relevant attributes is important so that preferred candidates are effectively attracted and eventually secured.


  • Financial outlook

  • Reputation

  • Strategies

  • Objectives

  • Leadership


  • Responsibilities

  • Challenges

  • Objectives

  • Variety

  • Team and structure

  • Impact on organization

  • Advancement opportunities

Cultural Fit:

  • Mission
  • Values
  • Organizational structure
  • Team structure
  • Environment
  • Work/life balance


  • Salary
  • Performance-based incentives
  • Benefits
  • Other types of compensation

*Please note that it is unlawful in many states to inquire about compensation history.


Attracting Executive-Level Candidates

“Executives are similar to other levels of candidates when it comes to considering the common issues of making a career change. The difference is executives’ interests go beyond those of most individuals,” Helbling explains. “Having been recruiting executives for nearly 40 years, I know first-hand how upper-tier professionals consider new opportunities. While most are extremely cautious, they are also attracted to roles that will stretch their capabilities and support their personal and professional objectives, and to organizations that can offer opportunities beyond what their current employers have the ability to provide.”

“You also have to communicate with executives differently than other levels of candidates,” says Helbling. “These professionals have little time for unnecessary ‘noise’ in their lives. You have to communicate openly and directly with them, understanding their career motivations, their personalities, and what makes them tick. But, it’s not just determining if they have the right qualifications and abilities. You have to sell your organization during the recruitment process - talk to them about your organization’s short- and long-term business strategies, objectives, and performance metrics, and how all of these may fit with their capabilities, experiences, and career goals.”

Helbling points out, “Executives are focused on more than just wealth and advancement. They consider an organization’s platform and the opportunities it provides for growth and advancement. They appraise its market competitiveness, its business strategy, and its position in the marketplace. These professionals consider ownership structure, board capabilities, and leadership teams. To attract them appropriately, you also have to delve into their family situations, such as the ages of their children, if they have aging parents, and if they are able to relocate just to be sure that an opportunity matches their stage of life.”

Typical considerations of most executive-level candidates when considering a new opportunity are below. Please note that some may not be applicable to all roles.

Executive Considerations:

  • Organizational matrix and ownership structure
  • Board capabilities
  • Autonomy of role
  • Specific performance metrics
  • Available resources
  • How the organization will support initiatives
  • How all of the above fits with candidate's expertise and long-term goals
  • Family situation


Every professional, regardless of their level, has his/her own career motivations and pertinent factors as it relates to considering a new career opportunity, and each facet carries its own weight. Understanding the common components of such decisions is beneficial so that the recruitment process can be tailored strategically and effectively. A final point to remember is that, the factors that come into play during the recruitment stage don’t just go away after an individual is hired. These are the same motivators that will support the professional in becoming a high-performer within your organization and enhance his/her potential to impact its overall success.