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A few weeks ago, we wrote about the value of money to those applying for senior management positions. We touched on the hierarchy of needs: a theory of the desires that we seek as human beings. The term was first coined by Abraham Maslow in 1943.

His book, Motivation and Personality, has become a core text in management circles. But what do Maslow’s theories actually say about how you should position your executive search? And how should you highlight the values that people are looking for?

Let us share some insight into each of the five needs, and explain why you should bear them in mind for recruitment…


Maslow’s hierarchy takes the shape of a pyramid. Each ‘need’ is reliant on the first to be met before the second can happen – and so on until we reach a total sense of wellbeing. The bottom need, making up the foundational layer, teaches us that we should ensure that candidates are fed, watered, healthy and well-rested. A company should be able to leave sufficient time for meal breaks. Their environment will, ideally, be cosy throughout the year (never too hot or too cold). Work schedules, too, have to be conscious of the risk of burnout.


‘Security’ accounts for ‘shelter’ and ‘stability’. In the context of recruitment, that means giving sufficient job security and setting out a clear direction for the candidate’s growth.

Health, safety and personal security also fall into this bracket. No one wants their professional life to be hanging in the balance, so make sure you have the right systems in place for things like access to the workplace and cybersecurity.

Social belonging

Here’s where the hierarchy gets more figurative… The need for love, belonging and inclusion is, of course, hard to define for everybody. Yet we can assume that a person wants to be listened to, appreciated, and brought into a social circle with few bumps along the way. Senior management positionsare what we make of them. But at the same time, they have to welcome a candidate with open arms. Giving them the trust they require to make big, impactful decisions is all part of doing so.


There are two kinds of esteem: the push for status, which we tend to pursue as an adolescent, and the more mature aim of self-confidence. An executive search will target new leaders, so it’s safe to say that confidence is already a major aspect of the personalities you’ll be interviewing. However, the corporate environment mustn’t take this for granted. Candidates want to be praised when they do good work. They’ll be eager to lead people who encourage each other to do their best. Proving that you recognise exceptional job performance and have a great benefits scheme in place is a predicator of them saying: “Yes, I’ll take it!”


Lastly, we have the pinnacle of Maslow’s theory – that of self-actualisation, where we recognise that we are achieving our full potential. This is the point when a senior hire will need to feel that they can still develop and strive for more in your organisation, and that there’s room for a little creativity along the way.

How do we ensure they can fulfil this need at your workplace? Well, consider the act of regularly measuring and reviewing performance, as well as the provision of training opportunities. Candidates will also want to make the new role their own. Showing that they have the ability to shape their day-to-day job functions as they progress will incentivise the role.

Executive headhunters like SPE Resourcing are proud advocates of Maslow’s theory. You’ll find that, 99% of the time, it reflects the elements that lie behind a senior management position. Contact us today with your vacancy; we’ll ensure you get the right person for your unique requirements.