Attracting and retaining your next CTO

Attracting and retaining your next CTO
With technology now at the core of how most businesses operate, hiring a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has progressed from being a luxury ‘nice-to-have’ role, to an essential function in many organisations.

From new and increasingly flexible employment models, to the surge in automation, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence – organisations need to adapt to changing market forces in order to keep abreast of the latest developments. The CTO role is fundamental in navigating businesses through the changing landscape and helping them to progress.

So what should an SME be looking for when hiring their next CTO? With a unique blend of management and technical skills, hiring the right individual for your organisation isn’t always straightforward for a small business. With that in mind, here are my top tips to help make the process as smooth as possible:

Check for a growth mindset

As an SME, it’s likely that your business is focused on growth. In order to have the best chance of hiring someone who will stay with your company for the longer term, organisations should assess candidates against their ability to manage a small team and set the direction of travel today, as well as leading a much larger function in the future.

You will need this individual to develop in line with your business, helping to keep you ahead of the competition. Some of this development can and should be done through training, but they will need to start with the right mentality in order for it to succeed.

Look for decisiveness and leadership traits

The marketplace is awash with a range of different technology solutions, with new entrants adding their names to the line-up on a daily basis. A good CTO should be able to assess the relevant options and quickly pinpoint the technology that is right for your business.

This decisiveness must also be matched with the ability to convince others of its value, whether that’s to get budgets approved or to drive business transformation.

Hire for capabilities not skills

With the rate of technological change continuing to gather pace, it’s unlikely that candidates are going to have experience in every area that you’re looking for. Added to this, the skills that are in demand are constantly changing, with many skills becoming outdated and being replaced by others. This speed of transformation is highlighted by the fact that 65% of Gen Z will be performing jobs that don’t exist yet.

Rather than trying to hire for the perfect fit now, SMEs should look for people who show a hunger to continue their learning and develop in line with the organisation’s vision and strategy.

Highlight the career trajectory

CTOs and the SMEs looking to hire them are operating in a buyer’s market, so you should focus on highlighting the benefits of working for your organisation. Some of the key areas that a CTO will be interested in during the interview process are the speed of transformation; their potential career trajectory; and the level of autonomy they will be able to operate with. CTOs will generally want to have this information prior to accepting any job offer, so it’s worth being transparent from the outset.

Identify your USP

As your business grows, so will the role of the CTO. Given the pace of change in technology, it’s likely that the individual will hold 10 different jobs within the company over the next 10 years, as their remit, responsibilities and focus continuously shift.

Variation at this level is a key selling point for small businesses and should be promoted during the attraction and interview phases to ensure that the right candidates apply.

Technology is evolving the nature of business and this is driving the emergence of a Skills Revolution, where finding the right balance of technology, talent and human relationships is critical to success. CTOs with the skills and experience to effect real business change will be in high demand going forward.

By following these steps and ensuring that businesses continue to develop their employees, small businesses will ensure that they remain competitive. They will be better placed to attract and retain the right people who will work to develop the right processes and tools to address today’s talent shortages and anticipate the demands of tomorrow.

Need support finding the right talent for your organisation? Get in touch today.