You have been identified by a headhunter as a potential source or candidate and receive that all important phone call from a search firm. Are you prepared? Have you perfected your elevator pitch? How do you ensure you are not caught off guard, or worse, screened out of an executive search before you've even had a chance to prove yourself?
Make Yourself Available
In a survey of AESC Member Executive Search Firms, one of their biggest frustrations was executives not returning calls or "tenacious gatekeepers" such as secretaries or receptionists who refuse to put the call through to the executive. Make sure you tell the right people that you do accept calls from search consultants and get calls forwarded through accordingly.
Find out who’s calling
Finding out the nature of the call up front will help you with the rest of the conversation. Is the executive recruiter interested in you particularly or just “fishing” the market on a speculative basis?
You can find out by checking the status and reputation of the firm quickly. Are they a “retained” firm (retained executive search firms are paid by a hiring organization to find the right candidate for a particular assignment – not the executive looking for a career move)? Are they members of their industry association? When were they established? Who have their previous clients been?

The more information you can find out about the firm’s reputation the more comfortable you should feel about getting involved with their executive search assignment.
Make the most of the opportunity
A "source" is someone who can be of value to the executive search firm in terms of directing them to suitable candidates, getting them a lead either within the company or outside, or who is able to give market, industry or company insight.
A "prospect" is someone who the search firm has identified as a potential fit for the position. The executive search firm contacts them to find out more about their qualifications, experience and to gauge interest in a potential opportunity.
Whether you are called as a source or a prospect, you have a unique opportunity to build a relationship with the executive search market. Make the most of the opportunity by being as helpful to the executive recruiter as you can. Even if the call amounts to nothing, the information and help you have given will set up the foundation for a future relationship.
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About BlueSteps
BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 8,000 executive search professionals in more than 75 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 75,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at

About the Association of Executive Search Consultants
The Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) is the worldwide professional association for the retained executive search and leadership consulting industry. The AESC promotes the highest professional standards in retained executive search and leadership consulting through its industry recognized Code of Ethics and Professional Practice Guidelines. The AESC also serves to broaden public understanding of the retained executive search and leadership consulting process and acts as an advocate for the interests of its member firms.


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