During the recruitment process for a new charity CEO, organisations go to great lengths to assess whether a candidate is the right fit. But amidst the stress and excitement of the application process, the candidate will often spend much less time weighing up the pros and cons of joining the organisation.

When they finally get their feet behind the desk, newly appointed CEOs often find the reality of the situation they’re faced with has unexpected challenges.

But getting the full picture before you take the plunge is not always straightforward. Published today, ACEVO’s Look Before you Leap guide, produced in association with leading search and leadership advisory firm Saxton Bamfylde, will help candidates make their own checklist of questions and avenues to explore for information.

Written by Ann Frye, Look Before you Leap draws on the real-life experiences of a number of charity CEOs who have been through difficult or challenging recruitment processes across a wide range of types and sizes of organisation.

The guidance also draws on the expertise of charity chairs who have seen the process from the other side of the table, and of finance experts who know what to probe and what to look for – and what it is realistic to expect.

It explores the areas of finances, people (including staff, the trustee board, the senior management team and the outgoing CEO), culture and values, fundraising, beneficiaries and social media, plus some crucial pointers about how to work best with the firm undertaking the search.

Vicky Browning, CEO of ACEVO, said:

“At ACEVO, we’ve seen too many examples of newly appointed CEOs who get their feet under the desk, only to find that all is not as it had seemed.

“Whether you’re an experienced civil society CEO wanting to seek a new challenge, a senior leader looking for your first chief executive role or someone coming into the voluntary sector from the private or public sectors, you need to feel confident you have enough information about the job you’re applying for to decide whether or not it is for you.

“We’ve consulted CEOs, chairs and the recruitment experts at SaxBam to pull together advice on the questions to ask and avenues to explore that will help prospective CEOs know as much as possible before taking the helm.”

Rachel Hubbard, partner at Saxton Bamfylde said:

“To be the very best leader you can be, you need to make sure that both the role and the organisation are the right fit for your skills, experience and interests. We’re delighted to support this guide which we hope helps new and experienced CEOs through this incredibly important stage in their career.”