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You know how hard it is to find the right developer for your company -- now multiply that by 10. That’s how difficult it can be to find the right CTO for your company. This person not only needs to have experience on the technical side but also a good deal of leadership and management experience. While the role can vary greatly from place to place, here are a few high-level tips to keep in mind when trying to find a CTO for your company.  

Clearly Define the CTO’s Role

In general, CTOs typically are responsible for overseeing the technical aspects of a company. However, duties will vary greatly depending on the company size, industry, and how the technical team is structured. Therefore, it’s crucial to be as explicit and detailed as possible about the job duties of this role.  

For example, a CTO at a small startup is typically a technical co-founder and often the most senior technical person at the company. But CTOs at larger companies are typically more focused on management and executive leadership. They’re of course still highly technical and bring a technical perspective to the executive team, but they aren’t as hands-on with code as the developers on their team are.

While interviewing candidates, it’s likely they’ll want to know what success in this role looks like. You can be prepared for this by planning out what you expect the CTO to have accomplished at the 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year mark.  What specific goals should they achieve? What problems need to be solved? Having this information on hand not only sets your company up for success but your future CTO as well.

Look for a Certain Set of Skills

When we say “skills”, we’re not referring to which programming language they have experience with. Instead, we mean things like:

  • Being able to advocate for their team and communicate their wants and needs
  • Doesn’t micromanage employees
  • Has excellent people skills
  • Shows that they are motivated
  • Excels at cross-team collaboration
  • Experience owning and managing the company’s engineering process
  • A track record of success with quantifiable examples

You shouldn’t just hire someone with a technical background who has managed a few people before. You need to look for much more – someone who understands the company’s mission, shares your vision, and is willing to “get stuff done.”

Accept That It Takes Time & Be Open to Creative Recruiting Ideas

This can be said for any technical role but is especially true for executive roles. It’s rare that you’ll hire the first person you meet or interview for a CTO position. It’s rare that you’ll post a job opening on a job board and see applications pile in.

You’ll want to look on tech-specific websites and possibly do some networking to find people for these tech executive roles. You could talk to friends and peers in the industry and ask for advice on how they effectively hired their CTO. Like Debbie Madden of Stride says, “People who are passionate about what they do often love to talk about it.”

2017 hiring landscape


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