10 Recruitment Tips from the World’s Best CEOs


When starting a business, if there is one thing we can learn from successful CEOs — aside from having a killer product like the iPhone, or an incredible marketing that can convince people that it’s okay to spend $4 on a cup of coffee—is that recruitment may be the most important skill to have.

Most successful CEOs are great recruiters. Take Starbuck’s Howard Schultz for instance, who now employs more than 150,000 employees, or “partners” as he calls them, to operate a massive chain of 20,366 stores all over the world. From a small roasting business in Seattle, Howard Schultz transformed Starbucks into the largest coffeehouse company in the world. He did it in less than a decade, and he did it with lots of help.

What do the world’s best CEOs have to say about recruiting successfully? Read on.

Howard Schultz

Hiring people is an art, not a science, and
resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit
into a company’s culture. When you realize
you’ve made a mistake, you need to
cut your losses and move on.

– Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks

Steve Jobs

Recruiting is hard. It’s just finding the needles
in the haystack. We do it ourselves and we spend
a lot of time at it. I’ve participated in the hiring of
maybe 5,000-plus people in my life. So I take it very seriously. You can’t know enough in a one-hour
interview. So, in the end, it’s ultimately based on
your gut. How do I feel about this person? What are
they like when they’re challenged? Why are
they here? I ask everybody that. The answers themselves are not what you’re looking for.
It’s the meta-data.

– Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc.

Richard Branson

It’s all about finding and hiring people smarter
than you. Getting them to join your business. And
giving them good work. Then getting out of their
way. And trusting them. You have to get out of the
way so YOU can focus on the bigger vision. That’s
important. And here’s the main thing, you must
make them see their work as a MISSION.

– Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group

Elon Musk

What do I look for? It depends on the task. You
know, it’s different, and I’m not necessarily looking
for someone who has brilliant analytical ability if
their job is going to be assembling hardware. But
I think, generally, I look for a positive attitude and
are they easy to work with, are people gonna like
working with them? It’s very important to like the
people you work with, otherwise life [and] your
job is gonna be quite miserable.

– Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX

Mark Pincus

I keep my eye out for someone who has achieved
a lot, so they’ve been a great athlete or on a great
team, but then something didn’t go quite right, and they’re still very hungry and want to be C.E.O. of something. I like to bet on people, especially those
who have taken risks and failed in some way,
because they have more real-world experience. And they’re humble. I also like to hire people into one
position below where they ought to be, because only
a certain kind of person will do that—somebody
who is pretty humble and somebody who’s very confident.

– Mark Pincus, co-founder and CEO of Zynga

Alan Mulally

Your resume tells a lot about what you’ve done.
I would want to know what you’ve enjoyed about
what you’ve done, what areas you feel comfortable
in making a contribution right away, what areas have
you struggled with, what do you really want to do
and, especially, what are your strengths? And
between what you’ve done and the way you communicate, I can just look in your eyes and tell
a lot.

– Alan Mulally, president and CEO, Ford

Warren Buffet

Somebody once said that in looking for people
to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity,
intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have
the first, the other two will kill you. You think about
it; it’s true. If you hire someone without integrity,
you really want them to be dumb and lazy.

– Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

AG Lafley

Hire from a diverse pool of individuals who are
highly talented in their area of specialization and
who have general-manager potential. Over time,
they’ll become good insiders—learning to manage
in the context of the company’s strategy, systems,
and culture.

– A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble

Millard Drexler

The person is a resume, not what’s on a piece
of paper. Whoever gives advice about resumes
in college should be dismissed. Titles don’t matter.
GPAs don’t matter, nor does what school you
go to. What matters is hard work, and emotional intelligence.

– Mickey Drexler, CEO of J. Crew

David Ogilvy

If each of us hires people who are smaller than
we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs.
But if each of us hires people who are bigger than
we are, we shall become a company of giants.

– David Ogilvy, founder and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather


How did you find this article? Share us your thoughts in the comments below.

Cloyd Waldo works at Staff.com, a global employment website, and Time Doctor, a productivity monitoring software designed to help reduce wasted time at work.

He has been telecommuting for work since 2008 and just loves mocha frappuccino.

Find me on Google+



  1. spotmagicsolis says:

    Inc. sent me

  2. Ava says:

    I feel that recruiting someone isn’t just about what on a CV as they don’t always reflect the depth of the real person. If I were hiring I would look at all the skills not listed on the CV but go with my gut .

  3. Amee says:

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you can remove me from that service? Cheers!

  4. Herby Fabius says:

    Nice, I guess Facebook’s front man Mark Zuckerberg is way too young to make the list huh. Good read thanks

  5. Sonal Arora says:

    “I also like to hire people into one position below where they ought to be, because only a certain kind of person will do that—somebody who is pretty humble and somebody who’s very confident.” – Mark Pincus, co-founder and CEO of Zynga

    Anyone care to elaborate on this particular sentence!

    • admin says:

      So he’s looking to put very advanced people in a position that is slightly beneath their level. That’s an interesting tactic! I think it would only work for companies that are very appealing to work for, otherwise most people would not want to take a step down

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