Each year, many executives make huge leaps in their careers with the help of executive search. But there are several key elements of the search process candidates need to understand prior to connecting with a recruiter.

You Are Not the Client
For retained executive search consultants, the client is always the hiring company. Therefore, executive candidates cannot expect executive recruiters to work on their behalf to source new roles – although if a mutually beneficial relationship is cultivated, they could keep you in mind should a relevant role cross their desk in the future. When approaching an executive recruiter, you should be aiming to assist them in finding the perfect match for their assignment – whether that perfect match is you, or perhaps someone you can recommend from within your own professional network. If you contact an executive recruiter with the primary aim of asking them to find you a role, you will demonstrate a fundamental lack of knowledge about who they are, what they do and how the search process works.executive search

You Will Not Be Given a Vast List of Opportunities to Choose From
Although retained executive search firms may be involved in hundreds of current candidate searches, they will not publish or present candidates with a full list to pick and choose from. This is not how the search process works. Executive search consultants have been hired by a company to research and find new talent for a specific role. They would not be able to offer executive candidates multiple roles at once as this could lead to their clients, the hiring organizations, being pitted against each other – a situation that both the hiring organizations and the search consultants will want to avoid at all cost.

Create a Positive First Impression
If you are contacting an executive recruiter for the first time via email, make sure that you are putting your best foot forward by writing a straight-to-the-point, concise email containing an overview of what you are looking for and skills or experience that might be of interest to them. You should take a very targeting approach to your outreach: writing personalized emails to a carefully selected small group of search consultants, bearing in mind that recruiters can spot “mass emails” from a mile away. If you know someone within your network who knows a search consultant, ask them to connect you or make a reference to your mutual connection within your opening email.

Be Prepared Ahead of Time
If things go well when you are connecting with search consultants and they agree that you might be a good match for a search that they are conducting, they will ask you to provide your core career documents such as your executive resume, your LinkedIn profile and/or your executive bio. As an executive recruiter’s time is very limited, they cannot afford to wait for you to update or rewrite these documents, so it is best practice to have these documents ready to go before you begin your search. Equally, as recruiters are so busy, you may want to consider including pertinent information in your initial outreach, including your salary expectation, your willingness to relocate and any other items which could be considered “deal breakers.” You should also be prepared to do your own research in advance on both the search firm, and the value of retained search.

Executive Recruiters are not Career Coaches or Advisors
Many executives make the mistake of expecting executive recruiters to help them understand their worth, give feedback on their salary expectation, their resume or other career documents or provide advice on general career strategy when that is simply not the role of an executive recruiter. If you do have questions or concerns relating to any of those vital career items, you should aim to find a solution prior to conducting your executive job search. If you need help, executive career advisors can be found via BlueSteps and can also provide advice and assistance on your job search and even your interview technique.

Be Fully Transparent
Executive recruiters don’t like to find skeletons in the closets of candidates that they plan to present to their clients. Be honest about your career history with the recruiter that you are working with and under no circumstances should you inflate your resume or misrepresent your professional history. Honest, complete and accurate disclose by the executive candidate is integral to the search process. You should also avoid leading recruiters to believe that you are only negotiating with them if you are also considering other offers at same time.

Make Time for Executive Search
Strive to work with search consultants to find mutually convenient times for your appointments and interviews – and make sure you stick to them. Executive search consultants appreciate flexibility and a willingness to make time to provide information that they need to move forward with their search. You should also put time aside for networking with executive search consultants prior to being in a possible where you desperately need a new role. Offering to help a recruiter and swiftly and politely responding to any inquiries from them— long before you need a job— is a great way to start building new relationships within the search community.


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