CTO Job Description Sample

Last updated: March 28, 2021
Estimated reading time: 5 min


This job description is just a sample, so don’t apply!

This sample assumes that the CTO is responsible for all five areas listed in our Why You Need a Chief Talent Officer article. You should tailor them based on how you have scoped your own CTO role.

Big Change, Inc. – Chief Talent Officer

Big Change, Inc. seeks a Chief Talent Officer to lead our efforts recruiting, developing, and retaining the extraordinary people we need to make the change we seek in the world. Ideal candidates need not have formal HR experience. Rather, we seek an accomplished leader who has successfully built high-performing teams in our field, has a high bar for performance and knows potential when they see it, has demonstrated a deep commitment to racial equity, and is an outstanding networker and developer of people.

Who We Are

[Your mission, story, and core selling points to potential recruits.]

What You’ll Do

You will be the strategist in charge of growing and nurturing the supply of our most important resource: our people. Specifically, your work will center on:

Overarching Talent Strategy & Leadership

  • Work with the CEO/ED and senior management team to set a strategic vision and priorities for all talent work, ensuring the organization has an eye on what it will need in the coming 3-5 years, including an explicit equity lens, and what it will take to get there.
  • Participate at the executive level in decisions about strategic priorities and planning, ensuring talent management is fully integrated.
  • Ensure that equity and inclusion is woven into all our talent-related activities.
  • Develop and support all managers to become high-skilled “talent champions.”

Recruitment and Hiring

  • Actively promote the organization as a great place to work, building our “employer brand” with potential hires.
  • Increase the success rate of new hires AND decrease the time and energy it takes from other team members to find them by:
    • Continuously building and managing a diverse pool of outstanding candidates for current and future potential positions;
    • Developing systems to more deeply assess likely performance for prospective new hires;
    • Ensuring “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” are spot on and effectively assessed in hiring processes.

Talent Development

  • Develop orientation and new staff training practices that get every new staff member what they need right out of the gate and increase the likelihood of a good start.
  • Ensure annual development plans are in place and implemented for all employees, focused on both immediate and longer-term organizational needs (both training on technical skill and stretch assignments for growth and assessment).
  • Ensure assessment mechanisms are in place to support all employees in their development and identify team members with greatest future potential.
  • Ensure talent development efforts are implemented equitably with no difference across race or other forms of identity.
  • Focus engagement and retention efforts on highest-performing, highest-potential team members, including: quality of direct supervision, proactive leadership pipeline development at the intersection of career aspirations and potential future role opportunities across the organization, and issues of compensation.

Oversight of Performance Management Systems

  • Own special projects, as needed, to identify and source the right technologies to support our talent initiatives.
  • Ensure evaluations are conducted on-time, and promotion and compensation decisions are timely and communicated well.

Who You Are & Keys to Success (the must-haves)

To be successful in this job, you possess these four qualities:

  • A very high bar and a discerning eye for talent. You have demonstrated the ability to manage, recruit, hire, and develop extraordinary teams. You have strong instincts on who can be successful in the areas we need most and a knack for spotting true talent (people who can actually deliver) within a pool of solid applicants.
  • Deep commitment to racial equity and inclusion. Measuring performance and potential is full of landmines based on implicit bias and existing power dynamics. Building high-quality, diverse pools and teams doesn’t happen by accident—it takes intention and commitment at every level in the organization, starting with you. You can devise and implement creative, concrete, and pragmatic ways to address or prevent potential equity challenges and mitigate bias in the hiring process.
  • Keep a bird’s eye view of the entire organization, short- and long-term. You are one of the few people who touches every single part of the organization and it’s your job to ensure talent flourishes, living out its highest purpose wherever it can in the organization, today and tomorrow. You know how to turn your vision into a concrete multi-year action plan, and because you plan ahead, you’re able to move multiple talent-related projects to the finish line.
  • An inclusive and collaborative approach. Your success is highly dependent on other senior leaders and managers—people who don’t report to you. Genuine partnership and ability to move others without hierarchical power is essential as you partner with managers on staff issues with an eye toward equity and inclusion. You have boundless energy for meeting, recruiting, and engaging with people.

In addition to these core qualities, you are someone who can effectively:

  • Make the ED (and/or #2) your key client/partner. They may be the boss, but their ongoing learning and development is key to the organization’s success (even though it can often be overlooked in the daily grind). And as one of the few people with full organizational scope, the more you two share a brain, the more strategic you can be in future-oriented talent development.

What Else You Should Know

We are an equal opportunity employer, and we make a particular effort to recruit people of color to apply for open positions.

The position is full-time and is ideally based in ____ (although we might have flexibility on location for the right candidate). The role requires ____ travel (about X days a month). The salary for this position ranges from $XX to $YY, with exact salary depending on experience. We also offer excellent benefits such as XX and YY.

How to Apply

If this seems like you, please send a resume and cover letter to hiring@bigchangeinc.org.


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