How to Avoid Executive Hiring Mistakes

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Let’s face it – making the wrong appointment at any level is costly and frustrating. But at a senior management or executive level, the wrong person in the wrong job in the wrong company is just….well….VERY wrong!

Which everyone realizes, hence the laborious rounds of interviews, the psychometric assessments, the risk profiling, the reference checking, etc, in order to avoid expensive and potentially destructive mistakes.

The reality is – none of the above is a perfect tool for successful hiring. Of course, we know that both interviewing and reference checking are relatively subjective activities. And psychometric assessments….well, the companies that sell these would have us believe that their assessments can provide scientific answers about potential hires. But let’s think about it – if this was possible, there would never be any issues with under-performance, poor fit or lack of management and leadership skills.

So the bottom line is, there will always be a measure of risk when you take on a new hire. Here are some tips on how to minimise these risks as much as possible.

  1. Accept that there are NO PERFECT PEOPLE

Once you’ve stopped looking for the holy grail, you can manage your expectations. Because one of the biggest risks to a successful appointment is the gap between the wish list and the real thing (a live human being with imperfections that will require a measure of compromise).

  1. Look for patterns in performance, both good and bad

By the time a professional reaches senior management, he has usually had a few jobs in a few companies – so he’s moved about a bit. Which is a good thing, because you can then ask him the golden question – why did you leave? Ask this question for each career move or role change, and you’ll start to see some interesting and insightful patterns. You’ll spot the people who chase money, who leave on good or bad terms with their previous bosses/ companies, who have ‘issues’ or success stories. And when the answers don’t add up, there’s probably something fishy. So keep asking until you’re satisfied. Because the greatest chance of future success is determined by past success.

  1. Let candidates talk

Particularly when you’re not entirely sure. My strategy is to give candidates ‘enough rope…’ so to speak – and then wait for clarity to reveal itself. Which it will, if you have a bit of patience and time.

  1. Don’t be intimidated by great CV’s

I can’t recall the number of times in my very early career when I would be ‘impressed’ by a candidate prior to even entering the interview room. For some reason or another – usually their seniority, the amount of money they made, the prestigious companies they’d worked for, etc. And this would result in me NOT asking all the questions, NOT getting into the substance, and accepting weak or general answers instead of pushing hard for detail and specifics.

  1. Make sure that the appointment will be MUTUALLY beneficial

The key to a successful appointment is when both parties – the employer and the candidate – can see what’s in it for them, respectively. If you start wondering why the candidate is keen on the role (it’s a sideways move at best, the package upside is not going to be all that competitive, the challenges and growth may be limited, the demands of travel are going to be excessive, etc), you should be on the high alert for an appointment that will be short-lived. So the fact that a candidate may be able to ‘hit the ground running’ may not be as brilliant as you think….in the long term.

I hope you get some value out of these tips and that you never make a hiring mistake – ever!

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How to turn off a headhunted candidate

In the last while I’ve had some interesting feedback from candidates after their first, second, third (or in some cases sixth or seventh) interview with a prospective new employer…..along with a bit of a moan from them about ‘stuff’.

The ‘stuff’ includes such petrifying experiences as being kept waiting in the reception area before being seated in a meeting room – headhunted candidates are usually VERY concerned about confidentiality, as they should be, and it is potentially career limiting to be seen by someone you know in the lobby. Try as you will, there is no mistaking the pre-interview ‘aura’ – any alert person can pick this up – and so paranoia about waiting out in the open is a pretty valid emotion!

shutterstock_122625739Being kept waiting beyond the appointed interview time is one of the biggest pet peeves of headhunted candidates. They are business people that made the effort to be there on time and keeping them waiting sends the signal that your time is more important than theirs. And even more irritating is being blasé about having kept them waiting.

Then, there is the ‘read the CV’ grumble! By the time the headhunted candidate is on to their second or third interview with (usually) various individuals from the executive team, he/she has an expectation that a) they will have read their CV, and b) they will have conferred amongst themselves regarding which questions have been asked and answered so that the same slew of questions and answers are not repeated in each meeting. A pretty reasonable expectation, one would think?

Another little aggravation is the inevitable interview question ‘So why do you want to leave your current company?’. This particular question may seem completely innocuous and without any malicious or negative intent…but if there’s one thing that gets the headhunted candidate’s blood to boil, it’s this one! And assuming that everyone in the room (and on the interviewing panel) knows that the candidate has, in fact, been approached by an executive search firm (yours truly), this would also seem understandably annoying.

So here’s the thing – companies spend LOTS of money, time and effort trying to woo top people to their organisations. They strategise, they plan, they commit the time of their executive team to the interview process, they utilize the services of the best headhunters around to bring the best talent to them. And then ‘stuff’ happens in the interviewing process that turns the candidates from interested to off!

Of course, savvy companies have the interview process so waxed that headhunted candidates can’t wait to sign on the dotted line.

Is the executive bonus system botched?  

The executive bonus has become a somewhat controversial topic in recent years and, in some countries, even the rallying cry for those wanting to apportion blame for the causes of the Global Financial Crisis. Perhaps it is no coincidence that 2007, the year the economy began its decline, was a record year for executive bonuses.

However it is not just the ‘Wall Street investment banker’ who is the recipient of remuneration outside the traditional salary payments. Most executives today receive some form of bonus remuneration as part of their total compensation. Often it includes both a cash payout and a substantial stock award.

shutterstock_149304473The original objective of the bonus system was as a means of incentivizing performance by motivating excellence in terms of employee output. However, increasingly bonuses are associated with motivating other than excellence – the reward itself has become the motivation.

At best many would argue that bonuses seem to be delivered merely for ‘turning up’ rather than for delivering excellence. A great example is the many top executives who were fired for lack of performance that were compensated with enormous golden parachutes, the popular exit “bonus”  for having failed. At worst they can actually incentivize ‘selfish’ behaviour which may be contrary to the long term best interests of the organisation or its stakeholders. Generally designed to reward quarterly performance it actually removes the incentive to perform well in the long term, thereby having a decidedly negative impact on shareholders.

In the hunt for the best and brightest, many organisations have convinced themselves that high bonuses are necessary to attract the best talent, despite the fact that contemporary research does not necessarily support this view.

While we are not advocating the removal of bonuses, indeed this would be extremely difficult given how they appear to have permeated the executive mindset, nevertheless there are a number of ways suggested to improve their effectiveness:

  1. Bonuses are only effective in incentivizing excellence for individuals who have direct control over their own performance – ie: external factors should be limited.
  2. Bonuses should always be discretionary; a culture of automatic bonuses negates their effectiveness. An ‘automatic bonus’ is a camouflaged additional salary or fixed compensation, not an incentive!
  3. Bonuses should be associated with long term collaborative behaviour and thinking – which is much more in the organisation’s interests rather than short term individualism. One way to ensure that is to award bonuses with the stipulation that they be used to purchase company shares. That way the executives interests are better aligned with the shareholders.
  4. The allocation system should be reflective of differences between employees in terms of their performance.  Differences in skills and abilities should be reflected in performance outcomes. If the organisation is not prepared to do this it should not pay bonuses.
  5. A bonus system must be both objective and subjective. It should use an objective criteria to measure outcomes and performance and it should do so on the basis of both short term and long term performance to ensure the future health of the company as well. It should also be a subjective system which looks at how the outcomes were achieved. This will ensure that the way people achieve results will not be ignored, ensuring unethical behaviour is not motivated.
  6. Finally and most importantly, but surprisingly often least recognized, is the importance of the bonus system being clear, transparent and understood by all.

Does a Degree Guarantee Success in Business?

business-degree-madison-macarthurAs we work with many top tier global companies across many industries we routinely see a strong bias, if not an absolute requirement, for undergrad and post grad degrees. These days a bachelor’s degree is practically a prerequisite for getting your résumé read—two-thirds of employers said they never waive degree requirements, or do so only for particularly outstanding candidates. In many companies promotional opportunities are limited for staff without degrees – sometimes despite strong employee performance.
I have seen many quality candidates over the years lose out to far less accomplished and business savvy candidates, simply because the client would not entertain a candidate without an undergrad.

Although a strong proponent of formal education (as a recruiter I know how limiting it can be not to have a degree), I firmly believe that an education is different from a degree. An education can take many forms –  formal, informal, self-directed, on the job training etc. I believe that success in business and life requires a lot more than mere certificates. It is a combination of factors such as aptitude, creativity, inquisitiveness, attitude, an ability to see and seize opportunities and willingness to work hard to attain them.. and more. There are many, many creative and free thinkers that just don’t conform well to a structured classroom setting and learning by rote. They are often stifled by the environment and drop out of university.

I had a client that had a Masters degree from the top US Ivy league college that had an interesting perspective on education. She would entertain a candidate without a degree that had done some interesting things over one that had a BComm and an MBA. She felt that this combination was a waste of time as the types of case studies the student would have worked on for both degrees were all based on the same principals and reasoning – just more years of doing the same thing, that likely resulted in the candidate only having one way of thinking. Not the kind of person she wanted for her company, she wanted agile, flexible, creative thinkers.
Great examples of overachievers that either never went, or dropped out of University include multi millionaires and billionaires such as:

Daniel Abraham, founder of Slim-Fast
Roman Abramovich, richest man in Russia, multiple businesses
Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft
Wally “Famous” Amos, founder of Famous Amos cookies
John Jacob Astor, real estate builder & investor
Ronald Baron, founder of Baron Capital
Eike Batista, mining executive, one of the 10 richest men in the world
Carl Bernstein, Watergate reporter, Washington Post
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin
Edgar Bronfman Jr., heir to the Seagram liquor fortune
James Francis Byrnes, U.S. senator, Supreme Court justice, secretary of state, governor
Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist
Scott Carpenter, astronaut
Tom Carvel, inventor of the soft-serve ice cream machine, founder of Carvel
Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel
Winston Churchill, British prime minister
Jack Kent Cooke, media mogul, owner of Washington Redskins
Simon Cowell, TV & music producer
Charles Culpeper, major shareholder and CEO of Coca Cola
John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems & founder of Patron Spirits tequila
Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers
Felix Dennis, magazine publisher, Maxim, Blender, and others
Richard DeVos,  co-founder of Amway
Barry Diller,  Hollywood mogul, Internet maven, chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp
Walt Disney, founder of the Walt Disney Company
George Eastman, inventor and founder of Kodak
Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle software company
Shawn Fanning, developer of Napster
Carly Fiorina, prior CEO, Hewlett-Packard
Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company
J. B. Fuqua, industrialist, philanthropist, funded Fuqua business school at Duke University
Bill Gates,  co-founder of Microsoft
David Geffen, founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of DreamWorks
J. Paul Getty,  oilman
Amadeo Peter Giannini, founder of Bank of America
John Glenn, astronaut, U.S. senator
Hyman Golden, cofounder of Snapple
David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby
Philip Green, retail mogul, Topshop
William Randolph Hearst, newspaper publisher
Richard Heckmann, investor, CEO of U.S. Filter,
H. Wayne Huizenga, founder of WMX waste management, owner of Miami Dolphins
Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, billionaire oilman
Peter Jennings, news anchor
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers and Pixar Animation
Henry J. Kaiser, founder of Kaiser Aluminum
Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, one of the richest people in the world
David Karp, founder of Tumblr
Li Ka-Shing, one of the wealthiest investors in Asia
Kirk Kerkorian, owner of MGM movie studio, Mirage Resorts, and Mandalay Bay Resorts
Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s
Ralph Lauren, founder of Polo & Ralph Lauren
Mike Lazaridis, founder of Research in Motion
Marcus Loew, founder of Loews movie theaters, co-founder of MGM movie studio
Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke College (America’s first women’s college)
John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods
John Major, British prime minister
Hendrik Meijer, founder of Meijer grocery stores
Dustin Moskovitz,  co-founder of Facebook
David Murdock, real estate tycoon, investor, chairman of Dole Foods
David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue airlines
David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather
Larry Page, founder of Google
Marc Rich, commodities investor, built Philbro into the world’s largest commodities firm
Leandro Rizzuto, founder of Conair
John D. Rockefeller Sr., founder of Standard Oil
Karl Rove, presidential advisor
Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
Vidal Sassoon, founder of Vidal Sassoon
Al Schneider, founder of Schneider National freight company
Richard Schulze, founder of Best Buy
Walter L. Smith, president of Florida A&M University
Daniel Snyder, owner of Snyder Communications, Red Zone Capital & the Washington Redskins
Alfred Taubman, chairman of Sotheby
Jack Crawford Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-a-Car
Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s
Ted Turner, founder of CNN and TBS
Jay Van Andel, co-founder of Amway
Anton van Leeuwenhoek, microbiologist, discoverer of bacteria, blood cells, and sperm cells
Theodore Waitt, founder of Gateway Computers
DeWitt Wallace, founder and publisher of Reader’s Digest
Ty Warner, developer of Beanie Babies
Sidney Weinberg, managing partner of Goldman Sachs
Leslie Wexner, founder of Limited Brands
Dean White, hotelier and billboard magnate
Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inns
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook

And this is far from a complete list!  I can’t imagine that there are too many top tier companies that would not have wanted to harness the talents of at least some of these people despite their lack of degrees.

Some companies like Google (FORTUNE top company to work for)are starting to rethink the requirement for degrees. Lazlo Bock, VP of People at Google stated in a recent NY times article that after extensive analysis of Google employees, they found no correlation between how people fared in college and how they performed on the job. He went on to state that while previously quite focused on requiring degrees, they now have units where 14% of the team is made up of people that never went to college. However companies showing this level of creativity in hiring are still few and far between.

So, while having a degree is not the be all and end all to realizing success in business, if you choose that route you better have vision, passion, and the perseverance and drive to do whatever it takes.

Time Is Of The Essence When Hiring Top Management Talent

madison-macarthur-time-is-of-the-essenceThis is pretty conventional wisdom – and you certainly didn’t hear it here, first.  No sales training session would be complete without a reminder of Time’s toxic effect on the pitch-to-close process.  In every industry, in every economy, in every region – it’s up there with “Don’t count your chickens”, and “A stitch in time…”
Whether you’re raising a fund, buying or selling real estate, closing a venture capital deal or selling your business, the old truth applies.  Hiring is no different.  Nothing makes a recruitment project as likely to fail as a significant delay in the process.  Why?  Because stuff happens.
Work issues improve, relationships heal (or deteriorate), the excitement wanes.  We’re dealing with human beings, who, given enough time, are bound to rethink their decisions.
Thinking twice (or even thrice) is good – and I’m certainly not suggesting that we should all rush blindly into big decisions.  Do your analysis, consult your advisers, get your paperwork and your background checks in order – and then propose!

We know there are lots of good reasons for delays in process, and too fast can also be a bad idea – making your move before you’re sure you even like each other is likely to result in disaster.
Am I contradicting myself?  Not really.  What I’m saying is there’s a reasonable time within which to make an informed decision.  In the world of executive search, that’s at most, four to five weeks from the first meeting with the candidate.
Any longer than that, and you’ve got to start weighing up your risks.  Circumstances change.  Fatigue sets in.  People start whisper campaigns.  “What’s up with them?”  And your candidate’s going to start wondering just how serious you are.  And whether it’s going to be less of a risk to fix their current situation than to dive into your unknown… when you finally get around to asking! After all – “Better the devil you know…”
Executive candidates can read a stalled process as reflecting negatively on the company in the following ways:

  • The company is indecisive, does not know what they want/need
  • This hire is not a priority – therefore not the kind of role I’m interested in
  • The company does not have the financial wherewithal to make the hire
  • The company’s slow movement in this process is a reflection of their overall corporate dynamic

Hiring an executive is a deal like any other – the company is selling the merits of their opportunity and the executive is selling their skills and talents to the company. It never fails to amaze me how often a company will interview a candidate, provide very enthusiastic feedback, invite them back for multiple meetings, indicate an offer is being pulled together and then… silence…! For weeks!
Too frequently the cost to the company can be, losing that top candidate.

Working Women: Overcoming Barriers to Promotion

women-promotionsDespite the fact that 75% of women said that more changes are needed to achieve workplace gender equity, most are not associating their beliefs to their own workplace situations. A poll was taken from a LinkedIn group of about 1,800 professional women, who were asked “Does it matter what gender your boss is?” The results were staggering; 67 per% claimed that their manager’s sex does not matter, 23% acknowledged that they prefer a male boss, and only 5% preferred working for a woman.4 It seems then, that the solution to overcoming this gender gap has to stem from a shift in mindset rather than implementing new programs or initiatives (such as quotas or hiring practices). The goal of such an initiative is noteworthy for corporations wanting to stay ahead– businesses who achieve a healthy balance of gender diversity place at the top of the competition.

The most difficult aspect, however, is finding lasting solutions. Perhaps we can look to Deloitte, a leader in gender diversity, for overcoming this issue. The company has already saved millions in turnover costs, and their latest solution includes holding “Inclusion Labs” across their offices worldwide. These labs are one-day sessions, which were founded at the Leadership Centre for Inclusion at Deloitte University in Texas. The Inclusion Labs were first created in March 2013 to help clients define their diversity and inclusion issues and solve other relatable challenges. Each day includes many small group discussions, including participation by individuals. Topics of discussion include issues such as barriers to promotion, deeply held and subconscious biases, and stereotypes of both genders in the workforce. The sessions are also accountability exercises. “Becoming aware of those diversity metrics is a real eye opener,” says Deloitte partner Jane Allen, former Chief Diversity Officer in Toronto. “You might say men and women are treated equally, but when you look at the data, the gaps in the metrics are much more than you thought they’d be.”2 At the end of the session, each client is given a detailed report with an action plan for change.

Coming from an executive director of 10 years and mother of three, Melissa Kushner gives two points of advice for all working women. First of all, use your gender to your advantage. Men and women run organizations differently, and both can learn from each other’s unique styles. Embracing the unique perspectives you can bring to a company is a precious asset. Second, she states it’s vital to accept your individual strengths and weaknesses. A common discussion in the workplace, she points out, is the point about whether women should be as aggressive as men. Melissa advises that people in general can evolve through their experiences, but at the same time not worry about changing their fundamental traits that make them unique.

Sources:

1. “When It Comes To Workplace Sexism, Millennial Women Suffer Most.”Leadership. Forbes. Retrieved June 16, 2014.

2. “Diversity & Inclusion – New Programs That Work.” Career. Women of Influence. Retrieved June 16, 2014.

3. “Five crucial leadership lessons from a working mother.” Leadership. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 16, 2014.

4. “Who do you prefer as a manager, a woman or a man?.” Management. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 16, 2014.

The Right Executive Leaders Make the Difference

Sylvia MacArthur, Madison MacArthur, April 2014

madison macarthur - executive search‘The Right Executive Leaders’ are undoubtedly the key differentiator between success and failure in organisations of any size, sector or type – be they public or private sector; listed blue-chip or family-owned; established brand or start-up – the bottom line is all (or mostly) about the people at the top.

When you look at the public sector, especially in the political arena, everywhere you look in this country leaders are failing their constituents and, worst case scenario, increasingly being charged for criminal activities.  Just look at the many disgraced politicians that have been in the news over the past few months alone. The reason is simple: we continue to appoint the wrong people to the wrong jobs for the wrong reasons.

What is less obvious, much less visible, and often assumed not to be the case by reasonably literate and intelligent people, is that unsuitable appointments happen in the private sector frequently too….. in spite of (or possibly because of) the many boxes that need to be checked in almost all executive level appointment processes.

Not the least of which is the multiple interviews with stakeholders (direct reporting lines, dotted reporting lines, regional reporting structures, functional reporting matrixes, executive board members, non-executive board members) who will interface with the new recruit.

So while there may be a shortlist of 4 to 5 talented individuals at the beginning of the interview process, the one who ultimately reaches the finish line is not necessarily the most exceptional leader in the group – but rather the one with the best interviewing skills, the one who is the most diplomatic, and the one who poses the least threat to the above-mentioned stakeholders. One who is also on occasion the ‘wrong’ person!

And then there are organisations who are willing to make bold decisions (many of them among our clients, thankfully), led by boards who are willing to secure leaders who ruffle feathers from time to time,  who are unapologetic about excellence, and who know what it takes to get there! These companies appoint the right leaders, to the right jobs, for the right reasons.

Saluting Women Executives!

Celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2014

madison macarthur - executive searchWe’ve just celebrated International Women’s Day. So I think a suitable theme for this blog post must focus on women in executive positions and leadership roles. A topic I am most comfortable with, considering my first hand experience and personal perspective.
Let’s start with the constant question posed by commentators on the ‘workplace’ – being “Why are there so few female executives in senior roles relative to the male contingent?’ (or derivatives of this).

Which I’ll answer as soon as I’ve finished whipping up a batch of homemade soup, called the TV repair man, arranged a veterinary appointment for the dog, had a run around the block (that’s all the time I can allocate to exercise today), and gotten to the office – by 7.30 am, so that I can be ready for my first meeting of the day.

But I digress – back to the question, ‘Why so few women executives at the top?’  Well, there’s a pretty clear answer to that, and it has nothing to do with any incapacity or lacking in skills, intelligence, energy, strength, maturity, wisdom, drive or ambition of professional women.

And everything to do with the fact that most women in their career-climbing years (30 – 40 years of age) are also in their family-rearing years, and unless these women have some kind of super-special domestic set-up combined with the willingness to outsource and delegate most of the domestic issues to 3rd parties (husbands or partners included), they will face the gruelling task of juggling a full-time executive job (you don’t get half-day executive roles) and the needs and demands of family.

In the corporate world, meetings take place at all hours of the day – often first thing (7am) or later in the day (from 4pm), resulting in early starts and late home-coming. Travel is undoubtedly part of an executive’s job description, sometimes weekly – resulting in nights away from home. Weekend conferences for strategy development, team building, and other initiatives are par for the course. Urgent board meetings and ExCo meetings (over and above the regular ones) typically take place after hours. And then because the day is filled with one meeting after another, admin and preparation needs to take place after these….usually on the laptop at home.

Leaving not a lot of time and energy for anything outside of work. And resulting in many extremely talented and capable professional women ‘opting out’ of the corporate world, because they are unwilling to make the compromises and sacrifices required of them.
So the question should not be “Why are there so few female executives”, but rather “When will the demands made of executives allow for flexibility, balance and consideration of family needs?”
But I don’t have the answer to that one, and now I need to dash off to take the cake out of the oven.

All I can say is… women rock….a lot!

What’s in a Name? The Down Side of Non Traditional Executive Job Titles

Sylvia MacArthur, Madison MacArthur, February 2014

madison macarthur - executive searchA decade or so ago, with new approaches to management and leadership penetrating both big corporates and entrepreneurial businesses alike, two trends became noticeably fashionable: 1) breaking down office compartments and styling offices in an open-plan design, and 2) limiting corporate hierarchies and striving for so-called ‘flat’ management structures.

What has transpired over the years in such companies is that grand job titles have become anathema…however, in many instances, the management hierarchies and job levels have remained (what exactly is a ‘flat’ structure in a company of more than 50 people?), and regardless of whether everyone on the executive is called ‘Head’, “Guru” or some other vague description (as opposed to Chief, Vice President, Director or similar), everyone in the organisation knows who’s on top!

However, the challenge for the abstractly designated employees of these companies comes into play when Johnny No-Title decides to move on, and places his CV in the market (or is approached by a headhunter).
And then the harsh reality of how companies (and their HR departments) evaluate executive level candidates becomes clear – frequently, a new prospective employer will look at the candidate’s most recent job title, and if the appropriate combination of words are not present (Executive Head, Chief something or another, etc), Johnny No-Title’s CV will go to the bottom of the pile. He will probably not even be given the opportunity to interview – purely because of a job title that is perceived to be at a lower level than required.

We’ve worked with one company in recruiting an executive that was to be the 2iC to the CEO and their internal title was “Operations Co-ordinator” rather than COO. You can imagine how much appeal that had to the VP level candidates we were recruiting. Many declined to consider the opportunity – a loss to both the prospects and to the company.

In the interests of ‘managing their CV’s’, we’ve recently experienced understandable push back from executive level candidates who are taking new positions in companies which don’t do job titles. As part of the deal, they’re insisting on appropriate job titles being included in their employment contracts. Although they will not be using these designations internally, they can use them in a public space (business cards and the like). This at least allows them to include their ‘legal’ job title in their CV’s should they make a career move at some point in the future.
Tricky to negotiate, because it’s a bit like planning for the divorce at the time of marriage, but if it can be handled deftly, worth your while!